By Rashid Mbugri, GNA
Nyankpala N/R, Oct. 12, GNA - The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI) has educated selected farmers in the Northern Region on management strategies and technologies to help reduce fall armyworm attacks on maize crops in the region.
These strategies included the adoption of intercropping system of farming and the use of different concentrations of plant extracts to help minimise damages caused by the fall armyworm on maize and also increase yield.
This was made known at a field observation trip with some farmers to the SARI research field in Nyankpala.
The field trip was to share and educate the farmers on the positive results of strategies and technologies, the institute had applied on some maize crops at the SARI research field, and tried its efficacies on the fall armyworm.
With funding from Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the Crop Protection Programme through these management strategies, was also to help complement government's efforts in sustainably managing the level of fall armyworm damage on maize crops in the country.
Dr Mumuni Abudulai, a Chief Research Scientist and Entomologist at the CSIR-SARI, speaking to farmers on the field, said the institute had applied the various strategies including the intercropping systems, the use of local plants extracts as well as government recommended insecticides on maize crops, and the results had shown and recorded similar positive outcomes in the last two years.
He said the institute had examined various intercropping systems using maize intercropped with sorghum, soyabeans, cowpea, groundnuts and Desmodium and the results showed that soybeans or groundnuts intercropped with maize appeared effective in reducing fall armyworm damage and maximised farmers returns.
He said the intercrop system does not necessarily need chemical spray to prevent fall armyworm damage.
Dr Abudulai said the use of plant extracts such as Hyptis (Hyptis suaveolens Poit), Jatropha (Jatropha curcas) and Neem seeds and leaves (Azadirachta indica) at different concentrations on legumes intercropped with maize, showed that they were as effective as using synthetic insecticides in managing the fall armyworm.
He added that these plants extracts were readily available in the environment and easily accessible by farmers for use and also less harmful to the farmers and the environment compared to the synthetic insecticides.
Dr Abudulai said some government recommended insecticides such as Eradicoat, Ema star, Bypel, Agoo and Adepa were also tested and they were generally effective at managing the pests but their relative efficacies differed, with Bypel and Ema star being the most effective in the test.
He, therefore, encouraged farmers to adopt the intercropping systems with the plant extracts, and said they were more suitable in helping to reduce the fall armyworm attacks on maize crops.
Mr Karim Alhassan, a farmer from Dundoo, a community in the Tolon District, commended CSIR-SARI for educating them on the intercropping systems and use of plant extracts in the management of fall armyworm, and assured management of the CRI- SARI that he would help educate other farmers in his community on the new development.
"Fall armyworm have been a big worry to us and I have seen that intercropping maize with other legumes like soybeans is a better method compared to the chemical application, and it will help us to get double yields for both maize and soybeans " he said.
Mrs Victoria Bassing, an Agricultural Extension Agent in the Tolon District who is also a farmer encouraged the SCIR-SARI to deepen their education on the control of the army worm by sensitising all Agricultural Extension agents in the region.
This, she said, would help them to educate more farmers in the region on these management strategies to enhance food security.