Fall Armyworm (FAW) has caused reduction in maize production across Nigeria. It is also present in some other African countries. Farmers’ identification of this pest is different from one location to another but the way it presents and method of devastation and control is the same in all the field.
FAW is a major pest of maize, although it affect other vegetables such as Okro and pepper in some farmers’ field. In Southwestern Nigeria, our report shows that most farmers have experienced FAW infestation in their maize field. Severe cases were reported in Osun and Kwara states with more that 70% of maize yield destroyed. Across the country, the severity of fall army worm varies between farms and communities.
The good news is that the pest can be controlled. The following control methods are effective if carefully applied:
- Cultural control – this involves maintaining good field hygiene, ensuring that infested crops are burnt properly. Others include planting of resistant varieties and intercropping with other crops (push and Pull technology)
- Biological control – this is controlling FAW with the use of natural enemies like ant or use of biopesticides such as fungi, bacteria, viruses (NPV)
- Botanical control – Neem extract has proven effective for control of FAW. Others include cassia leaf extract, wood ash and chili and garlic extract.
- Chemical control – Although there are several chemicals with different application guidelines, it is important to carefully select less hazardous insecticides for use.
However, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system is safer and cheaper for farmers. It combines the four methods mentioned above in a careful way. IPM is safer because it places less importance on use of heavy chemicals and emphasize more on the combination of the methods.
It is important to note that use of heavy chemicals on the crop has a direct effect on the consumers.
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Maize Improvement Programme for Southern Ecology (MIPSE)
Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T)
Obafemi Awolowo University.