Farmers' knowledge and management practices of fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) in Benin, West Africa.
Spodoptera frugiperda has caused significant losses of farmer income in sub-Saharan countries since 2016. This study assessed farmers' knowledge of S. frugiperda, their perceptions and management practices in Benin. Data were collected through a national survey of 1237 maize farmers. Ninety-one point eight percent of farmers recognized S. frugiperda damage, 78.9% of them were able to identify its larvae, and 93.9% of the maize fields were infested. According to farmers, the perceived yield losses amounted to 797.2 kg/ha of maize, representing 49% of the average maize yield commonly obtained by farmers. Chi-square tests revealed that the severity of the pest attacks was significantly associated with cropping practices and types of grown maize varieties. About 16% of farmers identified francolin (Francolinus bicalcaratus), village weaver (Ploceus cucullatus), and common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) as natural enemies and 5% of them identified yellow nutsedge, chan, shea tree, neem, tamarind, and soybean as repellent plants of S. frugiperda. Most farmers (91.4%) used synthetic pesticides and 1.9% of them used botanical pesticides, which they found more effective than synthetic pesticides. Significant relationships exist between farmers' management practices, their knowledge, organization membership, and contact with research and extension services. More research is required to further understand the effectiveness of botanical pesticides made by farmers against S. frugiperda and to refine them for scaling-up.