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Rwanda’s Resilience: Government Launches Strategic Campaign Against Fall Armyworms Threatening Agriculture Season A

In a resolute effort to safeguard the agricultural backbone of Rwanda, the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Board (RAB), in collaboration with districts, has embarked on a robust campaign against the menacing fall armyworms, which loom large over Agriculture Season A. This comprehensive initiative aims to protect over 80 crop species, including vital staples like maize, rice, sorghum, and legumes.

Unveiling the Threat: Fall Armyworms and Crop Devastation

Fall armyworms, notorious for their destructive impact, have emerged as a significant threat to the nation’s agricultural landscape. Reports highlighting the imminent danger to Agriculture Season A prompted swift interventions, with a primary focus on educating farmers about effective pest management strategies.

Maize farmers nationwide find themselves grappling with a formidable challenge as conventional pesticides prove ineffective against the resilient armyworms. Disturbing accounts from the Twizamure Cyuve farmers’ cooperative in the Cyuve sector, Musanze district, paint a vivid picture of devastating attacks on their maize plantations, leading to a plea for urgently needed, more potent pesticides.

Districts Mobilize: From Musanze to Nyanza

Musanze district stands out as one of the severely affected areas, sparking a recent campaign covering 72 hectares in the wetland of Busogwe sector, Nyanza district. Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, Patrick Kajyambere, the Vice Mayor in charge of economic development in Nyanza district, emphasizes a targeted approach, concentrating efforts on areas with minimal rainfall, and distributing pesticides under subsidies.

Innovative Approaches: Push-Pull Technology and Biological Control

Athanase Hategekimana, a scientist leading crop disease and pest control at RAB, introduces the innovative ‘push-pull technology.’ This integrated cropping system involves a repellent intercrop strategically designed to drive pests away from the main crop. Collaborating with the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology-icipe, this technique has shown promising results in districts such as Nyanze, Gatsibo, Nyagatare, Gicumbi, Musanze, Ngororero, and Rubavu.

To augment these efforts, the government explores biological control agents, leveraging parasitoids to disrupt fall armyworm reproduction and prevent crop damage. Trials in Kamonyi, Muhanga, Ruhango, Gatsibo, Nyagatare, and Ngororero districts showcase the potential of this approach, building on successful precedents in Kenya and Tanzania.

Innovative Solutions: GMO Seeds and Ensuring Crop Immunity

RAB contemplates the introduction of genetically modified organism (GMO) seeds, exemplified by the Tela maize variety. These seeds are designed to withstand drought, stemborer, and fall armyworm, ensuring enhanced crop immunity. Agricultural scientists advocate for their adoption, emphasizing both increased agricultural productivity and the safety of these crops for human consumption.

In this multifaceted battle against fall armyworms, Rwanda’s agricultural resilience takes center stage. The government’s proactive measures, encompassing education, innovative technologies, and strategic partnerships, underscore a steadfast commitment to safeguarding the nation’s food security and ensuring a thriving Agriculture Season A.

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