Scientists find push-pull technology curbs armyworms

Saturday November 18 2017

A farmer in her maize farm in Siaya.

A farmer in her maize farm in Siaya. The International Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) has identified how the push-pull technology can help curb fall armyworms. FILE PHOTO | NMG.  

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Researchers at the Nairobi-based International Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) have found a technology that will help curb fall armyworms, which have ravaged maize in the country.

The scientists have established that the push-pull technology advanced by Icipe is effective in controlling the fall armyworm hence providing an appropriate, handy, environmentally friendly and cost-effective approach for managing the pest.

The technology involves intercropping cereal crops with desmodium-type pest repellent legumes, and planting an attractive forage plant such as napier grass as a border.

Icipe Senior Research Scientist Charles Midega said the new technology is providing a suitable, accessible, environmentally friendly and cost-effective strategy for management of the pest.

The intercrop emits a blend of compounds that repel away stem borer moths, while the border plants emit semi-chemicals that are attractive to the pests.

“Our findings reveal that fall armyworm infestation is more than 80 percent lower in farms where the climate-adapted push-pull is being used, with associated increases in grain yields, in comparison to mono-crop plots,” Midega said.

He noted that farmers who apply push-pull technology have reported that their farms were free of fall armyworm infestation while neighbouring mono-crop plots were being ravaged by the pest.

“We embarked in evaluating the climate-adapted version of the technology as a potential management tool for fall armyworm in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to confirm the findings,” he said.

The findings now represent the first documented report of a readily available technology that can be immediately deployed in different parts of Africa to efficiently manage the fall armyworm.

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