SAN and its partner IPPC joined the global expert group that published the Integrated Pest Management guide for Fall Armyworm control in Africa

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Two years ago an invasive pest native to the Americas named the fall armyworm (FAW) was first confirmed in Africa and has since been detected in more than 30 African countries, significantly threatening food security, income and livelihoods of African rural communities. The FAW may cause widespread multi-billion $ maize yield losses across the main African maize producing countries.

To fight the epidemic fall armyworm in Africa, in January 2018 international experts published a complete integrated pest management (IPM) guide to support scientists, plant protection organizations, extension agencies, research institutions, and governments working with farmers to confront the FAW. The first edition of the guide is intended to provide practitioners with the IPM basis to effectively manage FAW in Africa, including chapters on FAW Pest Biology and Integrated Pest Management, Host Plant Resistance, Biocontrol, and Agroecological Landscape Management. Notably, the guide offers protocols for Monitoring and Scouting for FAW in maize fields to evaluate the level of harm caused by this pest and suggests when interventions are necessary.

Because the main technical intervention against FAW is likely treatment with synthetic pesticides, Paul C. Jepson and Katie Murray (IPPC, Oregon State University, USA) and Oliver Bach, Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN, Costa Rica) together with nine university research and extension specialists, pesticide industry technical experts, international agricultural research center scientists, national and regional regulatory officials, and agency staff from Kenya, Malawi, Togo, Uganda and Zambia have contributed the chapter on “Pesticide Hazard and Risk Management, and Compatibility with IPM”.

Pesticides are of wide use by FAW-affected African smallholders with little or no experience applying pesticides and managing their risks due to limited access by farmers to education and protective clothing. Pesticide handlers regularly lack basic skills in sprayer calibration, and field use, and in defining which pesticides to apply and how to apply them, health hazards, and volume and application rates of pesticides, restricted entry intervals, and even toxicity information for beneficial species. Ineffective pesticide application can cause harm to beneficial insect populations, and lead to increased pest population pressure, bigger crop damage, and intolerable effects to human health.

The designation of HHPs in the FAW IPM Guide is adapted from a SAN-IPPC analysis, which has been subject to stakeholder consultations and international peer review in more than 40 countries. IPPC and SAN state that human health and environmental risks of pesticides classified as highly hazardous (HHP) by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), can exceed any potential benefits in the maize-producing regions of Africa, and that their use should be eliminated or phased out. IPPC and SAN are the first organizations to have operationalized this definition of HHPs resulting in their prohibition by the SAN 2017 Sustainable Agriculture Standard and its related Pesticide Lists for tropical and subtropical fruit, coffee, tea, and cocoa production.

Of the hundreds of pesticides that remain, after HHPs have been isolated from the list of available products, almost 200 still pose risks to human health and the environment that can be mitigated by some easy-to-adopt practices. The IPPC and the SAN have conducted a comprehensive analysis of these pesticide risks that require some form of risk mitigation. Pesticide risks requiring mitigation are categorized as those associated with workers/bystanders, aquatic life, wildlife, pollinators, and natural enemies. Risk mitigation measures were consolidated during consultation processes and worldwide field-tests and include no-spray zones next to important ecosystems or wildlife habitats, vegetative barriers and other measures for spray-drift control.

SAN and IPPC will replicate the dynamics around HHPs and pesticide risk mitigation practices illustrated in the Integrated Pest Management guide for Fall Armyworm control in Africa for more crops and regions within their Agrochemical Impact Reduction initiative.

Oliver Bach