The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with its partners have trained at least 300 agricultural officers and farmers in Tanzania on control of fall armyworms, IITA said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The training is part of concerted efforts by the government and stakeholders in Tanzania’s agricultural sector to reduce losses being suffered by maize farmers across the country due to this highly invasive pest,” said the IITA statement issued in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
It said the training was held in the country’s southern highlands between January and February and was conducted by staff of the Africa RISING-NAFAKA Partnership and Scaling Project which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in Tanzania.
The Africa RISING project is led by IITA and NAFAKA is led by ACDI-VOCA, an international development nonprofit organization based in the United States that fosters broad-based economic growth, raises living standards, and creates vibrant communities.
The agricultural officers and farmers were trained on how to scout for and identify the armyworm, appropriate control methods such as the safe and correct use of pesticides, and cultural practices for managing the pests, said the statement.
The fall armyworm devours everything on its path before turning into a moth and is native to Central America, was first reported in Africa in Nigeria in early 2016.
Since then it has spread rapidly across the continent attacking maize farms with no regard for country borders. It was confirmed in both Tanzania and Kenya in early 2017.
The pest attacks economically important crops such as maize, wheat, millet, sorghum, sugarcane and rice at all stages and can cause up to complete crop loss.
According to a report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in August 2017, the pest had been reported in 14 regions in Tanzania and already caused a 3 percent reduction in maize yields in 2017.
“We expect that each of the trainers will train at least 200 farmers in each village on how to control the fall armyworm and design spraying programs as well as support the spray service providers made up of youth, producer organizations, and village-based agricultural agents,” said IITA Technology Scaling Specialist, Haroon Sseguya.