Maize farmers are being asked to be on the lookout against the return of the fall Armyworm as the rains intensify. The Agriculture ministry has confirmed the outbreak of the destructive moths in the districts of Rubanda in Kigezi and Abim in Karamoja. The outbreak of the migratory pests has also been confirmed in Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
The Agriculture ministry has confirmed the outbreak of the destructive moths in the districts of Rubanda in Kigezi and Abim in Karamoja. The outbreak of the migratory pests has also been confirmed in Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
Stephen Byantwale, Acting Commissioner in charge of Crop Protection, says in an interview that the fall armyworm (FAW) is back in Uganda. He says the Ministry of Agriculture and related bodies are beginning to sound alarm bells among maize cultivating districts. Byantwale says farmers whose crop has already germinated should begin checking their plants of the fall armyworm (FAW) eggs.
Farmers are asked to check ten plants in a row in five different locations in their field to find out whether the fall armyworm's larvae are absent or present.
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Spraying should begin after realising that 20 percent of the garden has been infested by the pests.
Byantwale says there is need for farmers to check and kill the moths if found in a particular area.
The maize plants are destroyed by the fall armyworm caterpillar but experts advise that moths that look like butterflies are of key concern. It is said that the female moth can fly up to 100 kilometres a night, and lays 1,000 eggs in her lifetime.
Byantwale says the destruction of the eggs found in the garden together with killing the moths could reduce on the level of destruction.
The Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), a research body, has warned the pest could cause annual losses of between eight and 20 million tonnes of maize worth millions of dollars in African countries unless urgently controlled.
Byantwale says the government is also working on a project by Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International to reach out to farmers with control messages.
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Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently embarked on training experts in the region by building their capacities to effectively monitor and manage the Fall Armyworm (FAW) through community-based approaches.
The sub-regional project, titled "Establishing an emergency community - based Fall Armyworm monitoring, forecasting, early warning and management system in Eastern Africa," is funded by the US Government (USAID/OFDA). It will support Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in pest monitoring and early warning to initiate timely and effective management actions to minimise crop loss.
Mathew Abang, Crop Production Officer at the FAO Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa (FAOSFE), said that the project promises to deliver a community-based Fall Armyworm monitoring system based on regular field scouting and pheromone trapping of the insect pest as well as a mobile phone-based application for data collection and reporting at grassroots level.