After a training from the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) on how to prevent fall armyworms, maize farmers in Arua now expect better yields.
The training follows the massive invasion of the farms by the worms in the past years.
The farmers described the intervention by NARO as timely and lifesaving.
Fifty farmers from the various groups in Vurra sub-county in Arua were selected to benefit from the one-day training on how to prevent and treat invasion by fall armyworms at the sub-county headquarters last week.
Farmers were taken through how to identify the fall armyworms, their lifecycle, the damage symptoms, how to control the worms and how to safely use the pesticides.
Allan Atekara Obonyo, an entomologist working with NARO, said the training was prompted after receiving several challenges regarding the management of pests, especially fall armyworms, as the community had different beliefs about its origin and management.
Obonyo said there are several ways of managing the damage caused by fall armyworms, including ploughing to expose the pupa to sunshine, early planting at the onset of rains, application of ash inside the funnel, regular weeding, burning of infected plants, handpicking and destroying caterpillars and spraying using pesticides.
What the farmers say
Gladys Ndaru Ndati, who said she lost almost a quarter of an acre of maize field to the fall armyworms, had relied on rudimentary ways of managing them, which only helped for a short time.
“With the knowledge I have got, I guess we are going to reap big from our maize from the next season,” she said.
Romano Acidri from Andribaku Centre A village, said at the onset of the 2016/2017 planting season, they blamed the fall armyworm invasion on the seeds distributed by the sub-county under Operation Wealth Creation programme.
“Knowing the origin of the disease now, we will handle the pest using the various methods we were taught,” Acidri said.