A. Togola, A. Kamara, and P. Chinwada
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Kano Station, Nigeria, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Zambia

The innovation

The innovation is about the ToT (training of trainers) on Fall Armyworm (FAW) scouting and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) package with the following components: weekly field scouting, spraying of neem-based products (neem oil solution3, neem cake solution4, neem leaves solution5 ), intercropping of maize with soybean, handpicking of caterpillars and use of chemical insecticide (Emamectin benzoate) as last option and only when the action threshold is reached.

This ToT in northern Nigeria is under a GIZ-IITA funded project on Maize, Cassava and Yam value chain. Two hundred and fifty trainers, including 200 extension agents (EAs), 40 youth (agri providers), and 10 seed companies, participated in the capacity-building exercise. Two Nigerian states benefited from this training: Kaduna State with 120 participants and Kano State with 120 participants. Each of the 200 EAs was assigned to train at least 20 farmers through a step-down training to transfer the FAW IPM knowledge to 4,000 maize farmers in northern Nigeria. Our activities included the retraining of an additional 100 EAs that GIZ trained some years back.

The training included theoretical and practical sessions. Participants were divided into batches of 40 to 45 people per session because of the COVID-19 guidelines in Nigeria. Participants learned how to identify FAW from other maize pests (stem borers, African indigenous Spodoptera species, leaf rollers, etc.). They were also taught the biology and ecology of the pest, the scouting techniques and the decision for the action threshold, the components of IPM, the treatment windows for chemical application and recommendations for avoiding insecticide resistance in the pest, the calibration of sprayers, etc.

An IPM demonstration plot was established in Kura Local Government Area, a FAW hotspot, to allow participants to implement what they had learned during the theoretical session. Both sessions were participatory, and we noted considerable interest and motivation among the beneficiaries. We created two WhatsApp groups to monitor the training properly, one for each state. The forum became very active. Through the WhatsApp groups, questions from stakeholders (EAs, youth, seed companies, farmers) are addressed, and IITA trainers provide timely responses.

The State Agri commissioners, the zonal supervisors, and trainees (EA, youth, and seed companies) highlighted the success of the training and recognized the value of the innovation. We expect this activity will substantially impact increasing maize production in Kano and Kaduna states this season. We are going to collect necessary indicators to compare the before and after training situations. Some EAs have started the step-down training already. Mr Abdulahi, registered as EA_37 in the Kano State WhatsApp group, trained 20 farmers three days after completing the training module and has shared photos of the farmer group he trained.

Research challenges: No single option can sustainably control the FAW. Farmers rely on chemical insecticides only, which leads to the increase of pesticide resistance in the pest. Poor knowledge of both farmers and extension agents exists on FAW biology, ecology, and management. Consequently, in Nigeria, the average economic loss of maize production reaches 15% due to FAW.

Title and description of project or program that generated the innovation: GIZ-IITA Maize Cassava and Yam Value Chain Project

Location: Northern Nigeria (Kano and Kaduna states)

Beneficiaries involved: 300 extension agents, 40 youth (agri providers), and 10 seed companies.

Evidence of benefit and impact of innovation: Seven days of theoretical training engaging 45 participants each, with two days of practicals. A total of 350 trainers trained; 4,000 farmers will be reached through the step-down training. Two WhatsApp groups created as forums for proper monitoring and evaluation.

Implications to future research or development: Decrease of FAW incidence and an increase of farmers’ productivity, contribution to food security in northern Nigeria Partners and collaborators: IITA, GIZ, KNARDA, KADA, Seed companies

3 Neem oil solution: Add 1 liter of neem oil + 2 liters of water + 10 g of soap powder (Omo, Kleen, Viva Plus, or any detergent). Stir very well to get a homogenous solution. This obtained product is a concentrate and should not be applied directly in the field. For field application, take 1 liter of the concentrate and add 9 liters of water + 10 g soap powder to be sprayed in the field using a Knapsack or any hand sprayer.

4 Neem cake solution: Neem grain cake is the powder obtained from the kernel of the rap fruits initially dried under shade and pounded in a mortar or a mixer. The cake can be applied directly in the field, or we can infuse 1 kg of it by putting it in a muslin cloth and soaking it in 10 liters of water for one night. The liquid can be sprayed in the field.

5 Neem leaves solution: Cut fresh neem leaves (2 kg). Grind it in a mortar or a mixer. Put the extract in a muslin cloth and tie it. Put the bag in 10 liters of water and let it soak overnight for a good infusion. Collect the liquid and add 20 g of soap powder. Mix them to get a homogenous liquid applied in the field using a Knapsack or any hand sprayer.