The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has started a campaign to control the infestation of farms in Nigeria by Fall Armyworm (FAW) pest via training of extension workers on its management.
Suffyan Koroma, FAO Country Representative to Nigeria, made this known on Thursday in a document made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He said that as part of efforts to ensure sustainable food and nutrition security in Nigeria, FAO had started the training of extension workers in the management and control of FAW in Borno, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Kano states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He said that the training was as a result of a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) agreement between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and FAO, which was signed in 2017 to curtail the spread of in the country.
The FAO official said that the crop-eating moth, which had devastated maize farms in over 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, remained a scourge for many farmers in the region.
“ Fall Armyworm, which originated from the Americas, was reported for the first time in Nigeria and some African countries in 2016; it has a migratory habit and can spread fast, eating up crops on its path.
“Although FAW has a special preference for maize, the invasive pest is capable of feeding on over 80 different crop species like sorghum, peanut, soybean, cowpea, cotton, sweet corn, forage and others; causing severe effect on food production output and livelihoods,’’ he said.
Koroma charged the extension workers to take advantage of the FAW resource materials developed by FAO, coupled with the knowledge they had acquired at the workshop, to curb the impact of the pest on farmers in their communities.
He said that FAO was working in 11 states — Borno, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Kano, Abia, Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, Kwara and Osun states – as well as the FCT.
Koroma said that adequate training was given to extension workers on FAW basic biology, ecology, monitoring techniques, reporting, biological control, cultural control, pest risk reduction, good agricultural practices (GAP), integrated pest management (IPM) and farmer field school (FFS) approach.
He said that FAO would continue to build and strengthen the national capacity by conducting training and creating awareness among relevant stakeholders, particularly agriculture and extension workers, on how to manage and control the pest.
“I can assure you that the training will be scaled up to more states of the country.
“The next phase of the training activities will target farmers directly in all the 11 states and FCT covered by the project,’’ he said.
Koroma said that beside the Fall Armyworm Monitoring and Early Warning System (FAMNEWS), an android application developed by FAO to guide farmers and extension workers on real-time detection and management of the FAW pest, other platforms were also made available to assist farmers.
“FAO is also supporting farmers with production inputs such as maize seeds, fertilisers, herbicides, backpack Knapsack sprayer equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE), to mitigate the effect of the pest and its consequences on their yields,’’ he said.
Koroma said that at the end of the training, participants would be able to provide good extension support to farmers in their neighbourhoods.