Arusha. Pesticide manufacturers in East Africa are being roped into the fight against the devastating army worms that are wreaking havoc on farms.
The East African Community (EAC) has directed that the pesticides that are currently on trial be released for the task by May 30, this year.
This, according to the EAC deputy secretary general - Productive and Social Sectors - Christophe Bazivamo, would enable the farmers easy access to the chemicals.
“The involvement of the private sector is pivotal for successful implementation of this,” he said in Arusha last week during a technical committee meeting on pilot testing on harmonised registration of pesticides. The meeting was convened by the EAC secretariat with the support of USAID, the US Department of Agriculture and Africa Lead II.
The main objective of the meeting was to finalise the roadmap and discuss modalities of pilot testing of EAC harmonized guidelines for testing and registration of pesticides.
It attracted agriculture desk officers from ministries responsible for EAC Affairs from the six partner states and pest control product companies.
The latter included Bayer, Syngenta, AgBiTech, REAL IPM, Corteva, Triachem, Provivi and Arysta Life Science.
Also in attendance were representatives of CropLife Africa and Middle East, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation and the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (Agra).
“Control of fall army worms (FAW) must be given priority because it poses a major threat to food security in the region,” Mr Bazivamo said. Since 2016, FAW has been spreading across much of sub-Saharan Africa and currently it has affected 45 out of 55 countries.
The invasive pest has the potential to cause maize yield losses in the range of $2 billion to $6 billion in Africa’s maize producing countries. According to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Tanzania is among the 12 African countries much affected by the worm.
“If no appropriate action is taken, the army worm would cause a loss of 21 to 53 per cent of maize yields in 12 African countries,” it said in a recent report.
The institute says the menace reduced by 20 per cent in Kenya last year, while the situation has been equally worrying in the northern regions of Tanzania.