Extension agents trained in fall armyworm management

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Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI) has trained agricultural extension agents and seed inspectors on fall armyworm management practices to enhance the production of maize in the country.

The participants were drawn from Upper West, Upper East, Northern, and North East Regions.
The training was to equip them with the best practices to minimise the negative environmental impacts in smallholder maize production systems in the country.

The training was with the support of the USAID Ghana Inclusive Agricultural Transformation (GIAT) project.
Dr Gloria Boakyewaa Adu, a Maize Breeder at CSIR-SARI and Leader of the GIAT project, speaking during the training at Nyankpala in the Northern Region, said fall armyworm management relied heavily on the use of pesticides.

She said fall armyworm was an insect native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Americas.

She said it was first detected in maize in Ghana in April 2016 and had become a major cause of maize yield loss and food insecurity in the country.

Dr Adu indicated that a farmer survey conducted in Ghana and Zambia in 2018 reported yield losses due to fall armyworm in maize to be 26-40 per cent and 35-50% respectively.

She mentioned that most farmers and seed growers still did not know the best practices to manage the fall armyworm pest to improve yields, hence the training.

She said apart from the cost implication of pesticide use in fall armyworm control, the pesticides possessed a serious threat to human health, other beneficial insects, and the environment at large.

She said, “For these reasons, the participants were also introduced to the Environmental and Social Management System (EMS) and EMS guidelines of AGRA as well as the ways seed growers and farmers could reduce the negative impact of their farming activities on the environment and social well-being of their communities.”

Dr Adu encouraged participants to always explore the option of biorational insecticides such as neem seed oil and those of microbial origin such as the Bt formulations whenever they were to advise farmers on the use of pesticides.

She said, “It is expected that the trainees will provide advisory services to smallholder farmers and seed growers in their operational areas on the best fall armyworm management practices.”

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