Farmers knowledge, perceptions, and management practices of the new invasive pest, fall armyworm in Ethiopia and Kenya
This paper reports for the first time on farmers’ knowledge, perceptions and management practices of the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in Ethiopia and Kenya. A survey of 343 smallholder maize farmers was conducted. Most farmers in Ethiopia and Kenya had knowledge about fall armyworm; they could identify it mainly during its larval stage. Furthermore, most farmers in Ethiopia (93%) and Kenya (97%) encountered damage by fall armyworm in their farms. They estimated an average of 32% crop damage in Ethiopia and 47.3% of crop damage in Kenya, with an estimated yield reduction between 0.8 to 1 tonnes/ha. Nearly half of the farmers relied on chemical insecticides to control this pest. The majority (60%) of the farmers in Kenya perceived that insecticides were not effective in controlling fall armyworm as compared to most farmers (46%) in Ethiopia who perceived that chemical spray is effective for the control of fall armyworm. In Ethiopia, 26% of the farmers combined handpicking larvae with insecticide sprays, whilst 15% of the farmers practiced only handpicking. The present study highlights the need to develop management strategies for fall armyworm based on farmers’ needs and priorities.