Serving broadcasters with good information to manage the Fall armyworm infestation

Sayon Irène from Radio Kafokan in Mali

Sayon Irène from Radio Kafokan in Mali

Across Africa, farmers are facing a new pest infestation. They are learning how to recognize and manage the Fall armyworm, a pest native to the Americas that was first seen in Africa about two years ago.

With good information, farmers can make better decisions. They can recognize which pest is infesting their field and decide which, if any, control methods are necessary to keep the insects at bay.

Farm radio programs are a great way to share good information with millions of farmers. And we’re ensuring broadcasters have the information they need about the Fall armyworm by circulating a backgrounder with key information about the pest.

We have developed backgrounders to summarize technical information on a particular topic for broadcasters. Topics have included cassava mosaic disease, raising goats, and growing soybeans. Backgrounders are written in clear language and in a way that is designed to be useful to broadcasters. They start with some introductory information: Why is this topic important? What are the key points? Then the Backgrounder provides more specific details about, for example, the life cycle of the Fall armyworm, how to recognize it, and how to monitor your fields.

We produced a backgrounder on Fall armyworm in October, with support from CABI, the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International, who provided technical knowledge.

We shared it with our broadcasting partners — more than 1,800 individuals — by email and it is published on our website. The information has already been accessed more than 1,000 times and downloaded more than 100 times.

Information on this new pest is constantly evolving as scientists research potential predators and the effectiveness of different control methods. So we have updated our backgrounder with the latest information and sharing it with our broadcasting partners.

We’ve also gathered our best scripts and Barza Wire stories about pest management and shared these with broadcasters as a theme pack. Each month we circulate a theme pack of Farm Radio resources on a particular topic. These include Backgrounders, scripts, and stories on a single topic, which might be useful for broadcasters interested in developing a program on that topic. Past theme packs have been about maternal health, soil fertility, legumes, and climate change.

The pest management theme pack has been the most popular yet.

It included a script about using cassette tapes and scarecrows to keep birds away from growing plants, using pepper powder to protect stored rice, and an explanation of the push-pull method that has been effective against stem borers. The pack also included stories from Barza Wire, our online news service that shares stories about small-scale farmers. Popular stories included several about biological insecticides.

These broadcaster resources ensure that farm radio broadcasters have good information that they can use when planning upcoming episodes of their programs. Scripts can be read on air, backgrounders can be used to inform interviews, and stories can be included in news segments. And all of these resources keep farmers informed on major issues facing farmers and the innovative solutions they have found successful.

You can access all of our theme packs and our Farm Radio Resource Packs here.

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