Biopesticide helps beat fall armyworm crop pest, increasing farm yields by 63% in South Sudan
Fall armyworm is an invasive pest that has spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa since its discovery in 2017. Biopesticides like Fawligen are helping to control the pest and replace the need for chemical pesticides. The application of Fawligen has resulted in an average yield increase of 63% for farmers in South Sudan, equivalent to an increase in income of $609 per hectare.
In recent years, the fall armyworm pest has devastated maize crops throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Chemical pesticides are currently the main way of controlling the infestations, but they can pose serious risks to the environment and human health.
Natural pesticides, also known as biopesticides, can be a highly effective alternative as they do not pose the same health risk to the environment or to spray operators, especially when used in conjunction with good crop management.
In 2019, CABI and partners tested a biopesticide called Fawligen in Kenya, which showed a maize yield advantage of 1,509 kg/ha over an untreated control field, and then designed the protocol to run a pilot demonstration of the product with 500 farmers in South Sudan. CABI provided local technical training and support to farmers as part of the first pilot study.
During the first phase of the project, farmers were clustered into groups of 50. Each cluster had a lead farmer trained to support the others and use their own farm as a demonstration or training site where they could teach a standard protocol and use of tools.
Crop yield data collected at the end of the growing season from three of the four sites – an area equal to around 132 hectares – showed that application of Fawligen resulted in an average yield increase of 63% for 500 smallholders when compared with untreated maize fields. This was equivalent to an increase in income of $609 per hectare.
A survey carried out at the end of the first pilot revealed that 95% of farmers were willing to pay for Fawligen if they could find it available at a nearby agro-dealer for a price comparable to a synthetic insecticide.
Sustainable Development Goals
Helping small-scale farmers improve their livelihoods by providing knowledge about plant health and access to markets.
Developing a sustainable food system that helps smallholders meet the world's growing need for food.
Helping grow more from less land by introducing higher-yielding and environmentally responsible food production techniques.
Crop protection in Africa relies heavily on the use of synthetic chemical pesticides. They are perceived to be more effective than other methods but human health concerns and the resistance to them in pest populations is shifting the tide towards lower risk pest management methodologies. Biopesticides are considered a suitable alternative in fall armyworm (FAW) management as they are typically more specific than most synthetic pesticides and are a lower risk to health and the environment. However, those commercial biopesticide products that are available, from the Americas and Europe, to use against FAW in Africa are not available due to inadequate knowledge on their efficacy.
Start: 01/06/2019 End: 31/12/2019