Using chemical pesticides safely: The case of Fall armyworm in Ethiopia

| November 11, 2019

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Maize farmers across sub-Saharan Africa are trying various methods to keep Fall armyworm (FAW) and other pests from damaging their crops. FAW is a migratory pest with a preference for eating maize. Since it was first reported in Africa in 2016, it has caused significant crop damage in more than 40 African countries, and experts say it is here to stay.

Farmers are handpicking the caterpillars off their plants, making insecticides out of local plants, and doing everything they can to keep their maize crops healthy to better resist FAW damage. But when these methods aren’t enough, chemical pesticides can be another effective option.

However, using chemical pesticides can be risky for the health of the farmer and their family, the environment, other species that predate or parasitize FAW, and the people who consume the food grown on the farm.

This script explains the importance of limiting exposure to chemical pesticides, and presents specific actions farmers can take to prepare and equip themselves. This includes knowing when and how to use pesticides, as well as how to store and clean the equipment and protective wear. These tips can help farmers protect themselves, their families, and communities.

As a broadcaster, you and a colleague could read this script on your radio program. Or you could use the information as a starting point for a call-in or text-in program, or an interview with a knowledgeable farmer or other expert. This script was written specifically about maize farmers managing FAW in Ethiopia, but much of the advice about managing FAW applies anywhere in Africa, and all of the advice about pesticide safety applies to using pesticides on any crop.

If you are using this script as part of your research or to help you prepare questions for interviews, you might want to find out:

• What are some other ways farmers in your area are managing FAW without having to resort to chemical pesticides?

• Where can farmers obtain the protective equipment to apply pesticides safely? Are trained pesticide applicators available in your area?

• What are some of the challenges facing local farmers who are considering using chemical pesticides to manage FAW?

Estimated running time: 20-25 minutes, with intro and outro music.<