Deo Mutekanyiza beside his maize field
Masindi and Kiryandongo are the maize-growing regions of Uganda, and maize – or corn – is a staple crop, cooked into a porridge for breakfast or into ugali for dinner.
The Fall armyworm is threatening maize crops in Uganda – and by extension the food security of Ugandans. It’s expected to damage up to 1.39 million tonnes of maize.
Lawrence Balagwasa is a farmer in Kituka village in Masindi district. He says “This Fall armyworm thing has really disturbed me since last year. I have been struggling to kill it but without succeeding. But the information on controlling it that I have heard on the radio has helped me a lot.”
Hear from Lawrence:
We’re on air in Uganda, in partnership with Radio Kitara, to share information about the Fall armyworm. The eight weeks of programming is made possible with support from CABI, the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International.
The radio program has discussed how to recognize this foreign pest, which was at first confused with the native African armyworm. But the Fall armyworm has a distinctive white inverted “Y” shape on its head. And, it is far more destructive.
The Fall armyworm is native to the Americas, where it reproduces quickly, laying 1,000 eggs in 10 days. This hungry, hungry pest is actually a caterpillar, feeding on up to 80 different plant species. It can cause up to 100% crops losses in maize fields, and then will turn to farmers’ other crops for food, leaving little remaining for farming families to eat or sell.
Charles Wandera is another farmer in Masindi district, in Labongo village. He says: “All along we have been lacking information to fight the armyworm but from the time we got a chance with this project with Radio Kitara, we are getting information Monday and Fridays. In a week we are getting the information twice.”
Hear from Charles:
The radio program is also discussing how farmers should monitor their fields for the Fall armyworm, and what control methods are most effective. It has given detailed information on when and how to safely apply biological and chemical pesticides, which farmers have found to be effective.
Deo Mutekanyiza is also a farmer in Labondo village. He says, “This worm has disturbed me for a very long time. But I have learned some things through the radio program on Radio Kitara. Actually I have learned a lot, which I am going to put into practice so that I achieve more because even my fellow [farmers] were crying because of this worm.”
He adds, “At least we have seen how to use the chemicals [pesticides] and which ones will help us to kill that worm. As of now, I have tried and things are working so I am very thankful for the radio program and sponsors of that program.”
Hear from Deo: