NARO Indentifies Pesticides Against Armyworm

5846 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
A source at Ministry told Uganda Radio Network that National Agriculture Research Organisation NARO has successfully tested the pesticides on gardens in Kakiri, Wakiso district, and found that they could control the fall army worms by about 70 if properly applied.

The Ministry of Agriculture is to recommend pesticides in the control of the fall army worm now ravaging the maize crop across the country. 

A source at Ministry told Uganda Radio Network that National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO) has successfully tested the pesticides on gardens in Kakiri, Wakiso district, and found that they could control the fall army worms by about 70% if properly applied.

Agriculture Minister Vincent Sempijja together with officials from the Ministry's Crop protection department was supposed to announce the two pesticides at the government Media Centre on Thursday. Sempijja, however, did not turn up for the briefing at which he was expected to announce how far the army worms have marched.

The Ministry of Agriculture has not issued guidelines on how to control the pests.
The voracious larval pest has been identified in most parts of the country with areas in Luweero most affected. Districts in South Western Uganda are also affected.

It is feared that the pest could ruin the entire country's maize harvest if not contained.The fall army worm is new to Uganda‚ meaning no pesticide had been registered for use‚ and proven successful‚ in fighting it.

At container village in Kampala, known for selling seeds and pesticides, farmers are being duped into buying Cypermethrin hoping that it can kill the marching fall army worms.

Cypermethrin, a pyrethroid insecticide has been effective in controlling the maize stork borer but farmers say it is not working in the case of fall army worm. 

Meanwhile Uganda Radio Network has established that Pesticide and fungicide suppliers are already positioning themselves to cash in from the fall army worm.

They are carrying out tests in various districts claiming that they had clearance from the Ministry of Health. Bukoola Chemical Industries recently sponsored such spraying in Luweero with its Dudu Feno.

A Ministry of Agriculture official who asked for anonymity however dismissed that the Crop protection department had authorised pesticide suppliers to test their chemicals.
 
The source said all government research is done by NARO and National Crop Resource Institute (NaCRI).   

The fall army worm normally lays eggs during the dry season and hatch in the rainy season.
In their larval stage, fall army worms attack a variety of crops as well as grasses. Their assault is normally aerial with the grey moths usually arriving under cover of darkness to lay eggs.

The worms are reported to attack nearly 80 different plant species, including maize, rice, wheat, sorghum, millet, cow-peas, groundnut, soybean, and potatoes.

It prefers to feed on grassy plants, in particular economically important crops such as maize, millet, sorghum, rice, wheat, and sugarcane.

One of the methods of effectively managing the pesticides to be announced by the Ministry of Agriculture will relate to the time of spraying.

In Zambia and South Africa, farmers were advised to spray their maize crop in the evening so that they could kill the moths at the time of laying eggs.

The current rainfall pattern in the affected areas has helped the fall army worms to thrive on. The rainfall has been on and off creating a conducive atmosphere for them to lay eggs when it is hot.

The International Institute For Tropical Agriculture (IITA) recommends application of insecticides such as pyrethroids, carbamates, and organophosphates as an immediate measure.

It says early detection is essential, as the application of chemical insecticides is only efficient in young larval stages.

Scientists in Kenya and NARO in Uganda say their water-efficient genetically modified maize or BT maize breed has shown resistance to fall army worm.

Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) breed that is under confined field trials in Kasese district had reportedly been attacked by the fall army worm but has showed resistance. Scientists hope they can get a gene from BT maize to control fall army worm.

Dr. Michael Otim, Senior Research Scientist and Crop Entomologist at National NaCRI declined comment on the potential of BT maize in controlling the fall army worm.