FAO Trains Extension Agriculture Workers to Fight “Fall Armyworms”

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The FAO workshop aimed to build the capacity of personnel at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) on how to fight the Fall Armyworms that are devastating most of the crops in Liberia.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, concluded a three-day hands-on training for district agriculture officers (DAOs) on the management and prevention of the invasion of ‘pests’ or ‘Fall Army worms’ (FAW) at the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI), near Gbarnga in Bong County.

Speaking to the Daily Observer on Monday, May 13, 2019 at the official opening of the training workshop at the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) in Suakoko District in Bong County, the FAO National Agronomist and focal person for the ‘Fall Armyworm’, Jobson Momo, said the three-day event intends to train the DAOs on how to identify eggs of the Fall Armyworms, and know the damages they cause for farmers; and how to prevent them from spreading further to other farmers across the county.

Mr. Momo said that the training aimed to build the capacity of personnel at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) on how to fight the pests or Fall Armyworms that are devastating most of the crops in Liberia, particularly maize (corn) and the vegetables.

“This training is just to refresh the DAOs about the danger of the Fall Armyworm, since we noticed in 2017 that the pests (Armyworms) in the country have been devastating our farmers’ crops, we have come to build the capacities of the DAOs, and equip them in the fight against the Fall Armyworms from destroying farmers’ crops,” Mr. Momo said.

“At that time, people did not know what type of pests were there in the county, but called the eggs by different names until FAO conducted a study; and it was established that the pests were ‘Fall Armyworms’ that destroyed crops indiscriminately,” he said.

The 22 participants were selected from 17 districts across the country that have reportedly been highly affected by the invasion of Fall Armyworms.

According to Momo, some of the participants were drawn from districts Montserrado, Margibi, Nimba, Bong Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and Lofa counties, for the training based on the prevalence of the pests in those areas. He said the training was for the DAOs to manage and control the pests; identify the routes, and how the DAOs can use the equipment that will be planted on the farms to attract the pests to minimize their level of spreading.

At the FAO workshop, District Agriculture Officers selected from 17 districts across the country that have reportedly been highly affected by the invasion of Fall Armyworms.

Some of the control mechanisms included traps for the Fall Armyworms that will entice them to the dead end.

“We are going to mount those traps in all the districts across the country, demonstrating the FAO’s commitment in fighting the devastating Fall Armyworms from destroying our farmers’ crops,” Mr. Momo said.

To meet that challenge, each participant will be given a smartphone that will be used to collect data from the field on the level of destruction by the Fall Armyworms. The data will be sent to the FAO Headquarters to allow the specialized agency to intensify its fight against the pests.

The phone will be used to scout the Fall Armyworms egg masses and larvae, use FAO FAMEWS application to collect field data, and transmit to a global platform at FAO Headquarters and communicate through telegram platform.

Participants lauded FAO for organizing the training workshop and promised to make maximum use of all necessary equipment given the DAOs to fight the Fall Armyworms.

The training was facilitated by Ebenezer Aboagye from the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Department of the Ghanaian Ministry of Agriculture, who presented on topics including the biology of Fall Armyworms and How the Eggs are Spread.

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