9 July 2019 – A series of extension campaigns, launched by CABI and partners, in Kenya and Uganda are helping in the fight against the invasive pest fall armyworm. These campaigns, which started in 2017, used integrated ICT-enabled approaches combining radio, SMS, and community video screenings with the aim of improving awareness, knowledge and management practices for fall armyworm.

Although smallholder agriculture is the main contributor to agricultural production in Africa and vital to food and nutritional security, agricultural productivity generally remains low.

While extension services play a key role in disseminating productivity enhancing technologies, unfortunately, this tends to be limited due to a range of constraints such as low funding and resource, compounded by the fact that the farmers who need it most tend to be in far-flung locations. In Kenya, the extension to farmer ratio averages 1:1000, and in Uganda in 2016/17 only 5% of farmers had access to extension services. This is where extension supported by ICTs, can play a key role in helping farmers by sharing knowledge and technology to increase their yields and incomes.

In a recent review, CABI authors looked at the use of ICT-enabled extension approaches in reaching a wide range of stakeholders with messages on fall armyworm identification, monitoring and management. The review aimed to assess the reach and effectiveness of the messages as well as better understand the potential for scale-up and sustainability.

Native to South America, fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) was first confirmed in Nigeria in 2016 and by 2018 had spread to most countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The highly invasive pest is able to reproduce quickly and fly hundreds of kilometres (aided by prevailing winds) meaning it can arrive on a new farm, in a different country literally overnight.

It has proven to be a real threat to food security and farmer incomes causing serious losses to maize yields in particular. Not only this but the added labour of controlling the pest and increased costs of production all negatively affect household incomes.

Additional information

Find out more about this story from the full article written on the CABI Invasives blog

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