Agriculture is the main economic activity in Least Developed Countries (LDC). It contributes about 30-60% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 2/3 of these countries and employs 60-90% of the labor force (FAO, 2016). Food production is the main sub-sector of Togo’s agricultural economy and represents 68% of the country’s agriculture. Among these products, maize is positioned as the main energy grain with great potential to contribute to the reduction of food insecurity. This production is, however, increasingly confronted with several constraints, including climatic hazards, pests and diseases. Attacks by pests such as the armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda J.E.Smith (Noctuidea) have significantly reduced maize production since its appearance in West Africa, including Togo since, 2016 (FAO, 2017). It is therefore important to look for different strategies to combat this exotic pest.
Three phases determine the idea of my research:
- Farmer perception on the question of this caterpillar
- Finding the best alternative of control through participatory research
- An environmental and economic impact study and the emergency measures to be taken
This work is carried out under by researchers from the Graduate School of Agronomy of the University of Lome, the Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International, and Training and Research Department of AGHRYMET.
Farmer perceptions: This work was carried out in the Savannah region of Togo with 173 maize producers between April and June 2018. The questions were asked individually to these producers to know if they knew the caterpillar, if they are victims and the different strategies they had developed.
Some results indicate that crop diversification was used to reduce the effect of S. frugiperda . Statistics have shown that sorghum was the main crop adopted by farmers to deal with this threat on maize (41%) followed by soy (39.3%).
To fight the pest analysis showed that among the producers surveyed, 48% fought against S. frugiperda in 2017/2018. The different methods of control of S. frugiperda practiced by maize producers are: chemical control, mechanical control and alternative control. Statistics showed that more than half (54.2%) of producers used synthetic insecticides versus 7.2% who manually killed larvae. The different products used were: synthetic insecticides, aqueous extracts of neem leaves (Azadirachta indica), aqueous extracts of onion bulbs (Allium cepa), aqueous extracts of tobacco leaves (Nicotiana tabacum), ash, oil and metazia. Metazia is a powdery bio-insecticide made from three fungi (Beauveria bassiana, Verticillium lecanii and Metaehizium anisopliae). NB: This article is in redaction.
Best control method: This phase of work consists of finding the best management alternatives for this pest. Products available and accessible to producers will be tested. Dose fractions and combinations to evaluate the effectiveness of interactions will be discussed. The best alternatives will be made available to producers.
After investigations, it was realized that plant extracts, and some synthetic insecticides, were used for pest control. It is these different products that will be tested to evaluate their effectiveness. Work in progress at the National Plant Protection Laboratory in Togo highlights 3 products: neem oil (Azardirachta indica), Jathropha curcas oil, and the synthetic insecticide Emamectin benzoate. Other extracts such as aqueous extracts of onion and garlic, tobacco will be made as and when resources are available be tested.
The environmental and economic impact study and emergency measures will be done in five economic regions of Togo taking into account the agro-ecological zones. Producer surveys, will determine the economic level of households before and after the appearance of the caterpillar. For fauna and flora, field observations and experiments will make the ecological assessment.
The results of this work will make it possible to make recommendations to the actors involved and to take emergency measures to maintain a healthy environment and the optimal production for the food security of our country.
Koque Kombate, Togo