The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Thursday distributed to Rwandan farmers 1 800 pheromone traps to prevent fall armyworm, according to a statement.
The organization also distributed 60 mobile phones installed with warning system mobile app which will facilitate information sharing among farmers and agriculture experts related to fall armyworm detection and fight, the statement said.
The FAO project targets farmers grouped in cooperatives in six districts of Rwanda most affected by armyworm, including Kayonza, Rwamagana, Nyagatare in east, and Nyamagabe, Nyanza and Muhanga in the south.
The traps laced with chemical (pheromone) target to capture male moths to prevent further reproduction through mating with the females, according to FAO.
Fall armyworm was first confirmed in Rwanda in 2017 in Nyamagabe district, southern Rwanda by Rwanda’s ministry of agriculture.
By the end of 2017, the outbreak had been reported in all the 30 districts of the country and had infested an estimated 17,521 hectares of maize out of 46,403 planted, according to FAO.
In Rwanda, maize and sorghum constitutes 82 percent of the annual cereal production of 611,405 tons annually, information from the ministry of agriculture shows.
In 2017, fall armyworm outbreak attacked 91.7 percent of the maize and sorghum planted in Nyamagabe district alone and 100 percent of the area occupied by maize in Nyanza and Muhanga districts, said FAO.
The pests also attacked 73.8 percent, 43.5 percent and 8.3 percent of the crops respectively in Kayonza, Rwamagana and Nyagatare due to limited capacity of extension systems to detect the insect early and act to minimize the impact, the UN agency said.
FAO has warned that army worm infestation if unchecked could affect livestock production as the pest feeds on different grass species, which are common sources of livestock feed.
It called for a coordinated national and regional approach in building the capacities of national plant protection system to deal with army worms.