Fall armyworm management in Southern Africa



  • Fall armyworm is an invasive pest that arrived in Africa in 2016, leading to extensive use of toxic chemical pesticides as an emergency response.
  • African smallholders’ fields already have natural enemies effectively controlling fall armyworm.
  • IPM strategies integrates agroecological approaches such as crop diversification and targeted pesticide use.
  • Governments should prioritize biological control and educate farmers and extension workers on preventive measures and agroecological practices.


What is armyworm?


Fall armyworm is an invasive pest from the Americas that arrived in Africa in 2016. Since its arrival, regional governments have spent huge sums of money on pesticide donations, including many highly toxic chemicals, as an emergency measure.

Over 15 parasitoid species and many predators — including spiders, beetles, ants and social wasps — attack fall armyworm in Africa. These natural enemies are abundant in most smallholders’ fields and data indicate that they provide effective control of fall armyworm in most situations.


What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for fall armyworm?


Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach that prioritizes preventative measures and minimizes the use of chemical pesticides as a last resort. It involves agro-ecological approaches to enhance natural enemies’ diversity and efficacy, as well as measures to promote plant health through integrated soil fertility management and biological control.


Policy recommendations


The document provides four policy recommendations for governments to improve education and training concerning the use of chemical pesticides:

  1. Governments should stop donating chemical pesticides and consider supporting biological control programs or producing biological pesticides from pathogenic fungi or viruses.
  2. Governments must ban highly hazardous pesticides, improve regulation of highly toxic ones, and expedite the approval process for safe biological pesticides.
  3. Highly hazardous and toxic pesticides should be replaced with biologicals or low-toxicity alternatives in input subsidy programs.
  4. Train agricultural extension workers in pest monitoring through field scouting and educate farmers on the significance of preventative measures, including soil-fertility management, seed selection, and agroecological approaches.


Learn more 🐛


How to manage fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) on smallholder farms

Developing smallholder strategies for fall armyworm (FAW) management

Agro-ecological approaches to fall armyworm control

Publisher: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

Language: English

Year: 2023

Ecosystem(s): Agricultural Land

Location(s): Africa, Malawi, Zambia

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