Adapting to Combat Fall Armyworm in Mozambique

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Nic Dexter, Ashley Peterson, Elsa Mapilele
Date Published:
September 12, 2018
Community Contribution

Maize farmers in Mozambique face significant productivity barriers. The USAID-funded Feed the Future Resilient Agricultural Markets Activity – Beira Corridor (RAMA-BC) is working to address these barriers. Implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development, RAMA-BC promotes intercropping maize with legumes (nitrogen-fixing cover crops) to improve soil fertility, one of farmers’ main productivity challenges. In 2017 (one year into project implementation), a new threat entered the scene: the fall armyworm (FAW). If not managed, FAW can cause significant yield losses and lead to food insecurity.

RAMA-BC and USAID established a CLA culture of open communication and trust early in the project. This enabling environment allowed the project to integrate FAW preventative tactics into its portfolio of activities to keep the program on track to improving productivity. RAMA-BC relied on a pause and reflect method to adapt, a technical evidence base to learn, and strategic partners to collaborate. Through Land O’Lakes International Development’s affiliation with leading U.S. agribusiness Land O’Lakes, Inc., RAMA-BC was connected to Villa Crop Protection, a South African company co-owned by Land O’Lakes. In March 2018, Villa sent three experts to Mozambique to facilitate trainings on a locally appropriate and environmentally sustainable method for suppressing FAW, called push-pull. RAMA-BC discovered the “push” method was already being practiced through the project’s promotion of intercropping. Legumes act as repellents to egg-laying FAW moths. RAMA-BC only had to add the “pull” factor. Planting FAW attractive grasses around a field’s perimeter pulls pests away from vulnerable crops. 

Since the training, the RAMA-BC has been spreading the word through model farmers demonstration plots and communication campaigns. Quantitative results will be evaluated at harvest when yields are measured, however RAMA-BC has high expectations for substantial improvements in productivity.