The Fall armyworm is marching through farmers’ fields across Africa, with 28 countries now dealing with this foreign invader.
Uganda first experienced the Fall armyworm last year, where it took farmers by surprise. Pascal Mweruka is our radio craft development officer in Uganda. He says, “It was too much last year, because it invaded gardens when no one was expecting it and it is a new pest in Uganda, so many people lost their crops and the yield was very poor.”
The Fall armyworm is native to the Americas, so when it first appeared in Africa in 2016, farmers were not aware of how to manage the pest. They typically deal with a different armyworm – the African armyworm – and foreign pests can have few natural predators. The Fall armyworm can be difficult to manage using pesticides, as it likes to burrow into maize cobs or the whorl of the plants. Read our Fast Facts about the Fall armyworm.
And the Fall armyworm is particularly damaging to farmers’ livelihoods and food security as it feeds on over 80 different species of plants, including key staple crops.
To ensure farmers in Uganda are better prepared to manage the Fall armyworm, we have partnered with CABI, the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International, and Radio Kitara to air eight weeks of farm radio programs about Fall armyworm.
Masindi and Kiryandongo are the maize-growing regions of Uganda, and so managing the Fall armyworm is very important there. Maize is a staple crop – and a favourite food of the Fall armyworm. The Fall armyworm is expected to damage up to 13.5 million tons of maize, valued at $3 billion US.
The radio program will discuss identifying the Fall armyworm and the impact it can have on farmers’ fields – and in the marketplace – as well as preparing for and managing the pest.
Pascal says already farmers are more aware of the Fall armyworm than they were last season, and the government is supporting interventions. But farmers still lack good information on methods for managing the invasive species.
Farmers’ voices will be a key part of the participatory radio series, which is why broadcasters at Radio Kitara started their work by visiting farmers in their fields. By gathering farmers’ knowledge, broadcasters can help to track the movement of the pest and any successful management practices to get rid of the pest. Farmers are stronger together, when they can share their questions and experiences. And this radio series builds on network so that farmers can be strong in the face of the Fall armyworm.
The Fall armyworm is small, hungry, and travels quickly. But the reach of radio is huge. Make a donation today so that we can provide broadcasters with the information they need to support farmers. We know that radio has a pivotal role to play in the fight against Fall armyworm. We are counting on your support … because millions of farmers count on us for reliable rural radio programs that answer their needs.