The government in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has launched a countrywide campaign to install traps which lure and catch moths behind fall armyworm (FAW) reproduction. The technique is environmentally friendly, easy to use and affordable.
The intervention worth $ 284,000 (about Rwf230 million) is a timely move and could prevent a similar armyworm catastrophe, which left farmers counting losses last year.
However, dealing with the problem should not be left to only government. All stakeholders including individual farmers should join hands in this campaign.
The success of this campaign will largely depend on every one’s support. To the individual farmers, they should treat the campaign as an opportunity to learn more about managing the problem. The fall armyworm is a big threat to food security in Rwanda and Africa in general.
Last month, FAO warned that, if left unchecked, fall armyworm could push more than 300 million people into hunger, and lead to annual economic losses of up to $4.8 billion from maize production alone.
Fall armyworm can feed on 80 crops, but mostly affects maize- the most important food security crop.
The timing of the campaign is good because it will help in detection of early pest infestations, defining areas of pest infestations, tracking the buildup of a pest population and help in decision making for pest management.
However, other ways of dealing with the problem should not be ignored in preference of using only the new technique. The new technique in the fight against armyworms should be part of the wider integrated approach like hand picking and application of pesticides.
If all farmers fully implement guidelines under the new campaign, Rwanda will be able to harvest the projected 775,000 tonnes of maize in 2018 from about 258,000 hectares of consolidated land.