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Fall Armyworm in Africa: A Guide for Integrated Pest Management

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The world has seen significant progress in the fight against hunger, undernutrition and extreme poverty, although a lot still remains to be done. At the same time, the emergence and rapid spread of the fall armyworm (FAW; Spodoptera frugiperda) in Africa seriously threatens the food and income security of millions of smallholder farmers. Given what we know about the pest’s behavior in the Americas and from the early experiences in Africa, shared commitments to reduce poverty and hunger – as expressed by the Sustainable Development Goals, the African Union’s Malabo Declaration and G7 – may be difficult to achieve without concerted and intensive actions at all levels. Within a short span of its introduction in Africa, FAW has been confirmed in over 30 African countries and it is likely to become endemic in many. Its major preference for maize, a staple food for over 300 million African smallholder farm families, poses a threat to food security, nutrition and livelihoods.

Given the enormity of the challenge, an effective response requires coordinated action from the broadest possible community – African governments, international and national research institutions, donors, the private sector and civil society. An important foundation for this action must be an understanding of FAW behavior and the management practices that can help smallholder farmers effectively control the pest without damaging human and animal health and the environment. To this end, we convened experts from Africa and around the world in Entebbe, Uganda (Sept 16-17, 2017) to review and identify management options for control of FAW in Africa within an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) framework.

This publication, titled Fall Armyworm in Africa: A Guide to Integrated Pest Management, is the result of contributions of dozens of institutions and individuals, to whom we express our deep appreciation. This learning community consisted of experts and practitioners from international and national research and development institutions with extensive experience in pest biology; pest scouting, monitoring and surveillance; biological control; host plant resistance; pesticide risk management; agronomic and landscape management; and IPM strategies. To address the rapid spread of FAW in Africa, we have worked intensively to quickly review and highlight scientifically proven management practices that could be relevant for African farmers, especially smallholders. We intend to revise and release subsequent editions of this FAW IPM Guide, updating the scientific knowledge, management practices, protocols and research findings, as more evidence with regard to efficacy of various FAW management options in Africa emerges.

Our approach to the development of this publication is guided by the Rome Principles developed by leaders at the 2009 World Summit on Food Security to guide urgent action to eradicate hunger. In particular, we seek to work in partnership to:

• Ensure that scientific evidence and knowledge guides recommendations on FAW management practices and policies.

• Foster strategic coordination to align the knowledge, experience and resources of diverse partners, avoid duplication of effort and identify implementation gaps.

• Support country-level engagement and ownership of approaches to ensure assistance is tailored to the needs of individual countries and built on consultation with all key stakeholders.

• Commit to building capacity, focusing on integrated actions addressing policies, institutions and people, with a special emphasis on smallholders and women farmers.

Scope of this FAW IPM Guide

This FAW IPM Guide is designed for use by professionals in plant protection organizations, extension agencies, research institutions, and Governments, whose primary focus is smallholder farmers and the seed systems that support them. The FAW IPM Guide is meant to provide an important foundation for the emergence of harmonized FAW pest management protocols that will continue to be informed by research. The guide is also expected to serve as the basis for a series of cascading technical knowledge dissemination materials and social and behavioral change communications that will specifically target the needs of the smallholder farmers in Africa.

The demand for this FAW IPM Guide is high. Therefore, this first edition is meant to provide practitioners with the IPM foundation to successfully manage FAW in Africa. This includes chapters on FAW Pest Biology and Integrated Pest Management, Host Plant Resistance, Biocontrol, and Agroecological Landscape Management. Importantly, the guide provides protocols for Monitoring and Scouting for FAW in maize fields to assess the level of damage due to the pest and to suggest when interventions are warranted. Because the primary technical intervention, at least in the immediate term, is likely to be treatment with synthetic pesticides, a chapter is included on Pesticide Hazard and Risk Assessment and Compatibility with IPM.

We recognize that some important topics are still in development and may be provided by other avenues in the short term. For example, we do not make specific pesticide recommendations, per se. The use of a particular pesticide is regulated at the country level and therefore varies by jurisdiction. Country recommendations and label directions must be followed when using pesticides. We do, however, provide generic information on what types of chemical pesticides should be avoided, what could be environmentally safer, and how best to assess pesticide hazards and risks. Further, we have not included information on pesticide application since, in many jurisdictions, pesticide applicator training may be a government-regulated activity. Still, our goal for the second edition of the FAW IPM Guide will be to provide a basic outline of that information. In the interim, we have provided guidance from CropLife International, which may prove useful.

Readers of the FAW IPM Guide are encouraged to identify and combine appropriate options from each of the chapters, applying or adapting them as necessary in their local context, in order to develop effective, locally appropriate IPM strategies against FAW. While some chapters in the FAW IPM Guide (e.g., Chapter 2 on FAW Monitoring and Scouting) contain immediately actionable guidance, others (e.g., Chapter 4 on Host Plant Resistance; Chapter 5 on Biological Control and Biorational Pesticides) are aimed primarily for the research community, providing relevant tools and protocols to identify and develop appropriate technologies.

This FAW IPM Guide is intended as a living document, to be updated regularly. While the information compiled in the first edition provides an initial basis for practical decision-making and strategic planning, future editions will reflect the rapidly evolving African experience with FAW, and provide opportunities to expand and refine local IPM approaches in light of new knowledge and tools.