After realizing the devastation that the Fall Armyworm (FAW) has on Africa’s food systems, Land O’Lakes 37 and Villa Crop Protection have prepared learning modules for training smallholder farmers on the appropriate response to the pest.
The FAW is a voracious insect that targets maize and other food crops. Originating in the America, it reached Africa in 2016 and has just in four years spread to over 70 countries in Africa, Asia and the Near East.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the pest risks to damage up to 80 million tonnes of maize worth $18 billion per year in Africa, Asia and the Near East.
In Africa alone, it causes loss of up to 8-20 million tonnes of maize every year, with most of the damage allowed to go on due to the limited knowledge on control and eradication.
This has contributed to deteroriating food security in some parts of the continent, in Zimbabwe, for example, where recent studies show that smallholder maize-growing households blighted by the pest are 12% more likely to experience hunger.
Still in Zimbabwe, the scientists discovered that households affected by the FAW but failed to implement a control strategy had a 50% lower per capita household income, while their counterparts that implemented a control strategy did not suffer a significant income loss. Many other countries in Africa and beyond experience similar consequences from FAW invasion.
It is against this backdrop that Land O’Lakes 37 and Villa Crop Protection produced the learning modules to equip those who train or offer extension advice with the knowedge and skill on crop protection that they can pass on to smallholder farmers.
The learning modules were produced with with support from AGRA under the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) comprising of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Rockefeller Foundation, Department for International Development (DFID), BMZ Germany and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The seven modules cover everything from FAW identification to the responsible use of agrochemicals when fighting the pest, and the economic and action thresholds of the pest.
Each module consists of recorded presentations to prepare trainers, a trainer’s guide, presentations, and accompanying training materials such as video clips, handouts, and illustrations.
The modules are available for free download at the AgriTraining website.