Technologies to curb Fall Armyworm in Kenya
Kenya has always relied on maize production for it’s domestic as well as exports need. However, constraints such as drought, pests, and diseases have hindered this. The invasion of Fall Armyworm in Kenya has made an already bad situation worse.
Digital tools such as PlantVillage have put tremendous efforts in identifying the diseases and pest problems. PlantVillage Nuru is an offline Artificial Intelligence assistant to diagnose crop diseases. Nuru- an innovative talking app help farmers in Kenya recognize fall Armyworm so that they can take immediate steps to destroy it and curb it’s spread.
Such control measures include Push-Pull technology developed by Icipe(International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology)
What is Push-Pull technology?
Push-Pull is a farming system where a cereal (such as maize or sorghum) is intercropped with the legume desmodium, and the plots surrounded with Napier or brachiaria grass.
How push and pull technology works
Desmodium produces a smell that stemborers and fall Armyworm moths do not like. The smell 'pushes' away the moths from the maize. The moths are ‘pulled’ by the pleasant smell produced by the Napier/brachiaria and they lay eggs on them.
Desmodium also releases chemicals into the soil that stop striga weed from growing on maize.
Push-Pull technology is an important control measure against FAW because it increases maize yields as the cereal is protected from Fall Armyworm. The desmodium protects the soil from erosion and enhances water retention by soil as desmodium acts as a live mulch. Desmodium also fixes nitrogen into the soil hence saving on fertilizer cost. In addition, the Napier/ brachiaria/desmodium used provides cattle feed.
With these two technologies at hand, a farmer is able to identify and control invasive crop pests and improve their livelihood.
Written By: Mercyline Tata