Natural products: a sustainable way to fight fall armyworm in an integrated system

Before I talk much about the idea I would like to promote, let me share with you the motivation behind my idea. Fall armyworm is a notorious pest that is affecting our staple crop in Africa – maize. One day, I visited my village during the cropping season. I saw children going into the maize field only to come out with cups filled with fall armyworm. That told me a story and I felt bad about it. I want to try something out.

Have you ever thought of less pesticides or completely no use of synthetic chemicals? In my opinion a lot of pests have evolved to be resistant to synthetic pesticides and they have damaged the environment. If we aim for sustainability, a natural product may be the way to go. I want to use cheap and sustainable ways to fight against fall armyworm.

Therefore, what are the steps?

I will set up an experiment in a controlled environment. I will plant maize and infest it with fall armyworm. For the natural product, I am planning to use small fish locally known as bonya. I will prepare a soup by boiling the fish in water for at least few minutes. Then, it will be cooled before removing the water and using the residue to spray on the whorl of infested maize. I will taste different volumes and see which one is effective. The experiment can take me 4-5 months to complete. The fish will not be wasted but processed into other products like sausage.

The key stakeholders could be government, university and farmers are direct beneficiaries. By the end of it. I expect adoption of the idea at national level.

Love nature, use local products!!

Florence Simbota, Malawi


  1. Its very amazing…. Hope one can start a company of producing bonya juice (pesticide) at the same time bonya sausage. I like it please involve me in the experiments

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  2. This can be a better way to go as besides negative effects associated with the use of pesticides, many of farmers in Malawi are resource constrained as such many cant fight the pest using pesticides. However, the proposed technique if will be proved efficient in dealing with fall-army-worm will go a long way as bonya (small Engraulicypris sardella fish) is locally available and cheap as such the fight against fall-army-worm will be cheap and easy.

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  3. Its really a very good idea Florence. This will indeed be of help and sustainable as the small fish locally known as bonya in Malawi, is locally available and cheap to obtain. Further, as a natural way to deal with pests we will have no issues which are often married with the use of most pesticides to the part of the consumers and am double sure if the idea materialises it will be one of the best in as far as agricultural innovation is concerned.

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  4. That would be a great idea. Apart from pests being resistant to synthetic pesticides as of now; most of these are also not good to our health and nutrition, because they are just chemicals sprayed on food. So, i will very much support the use of fish soup; and i will also emphasize more on the processing of the fish remains after extracting the soup, because we do not want any food wastage on the other side. #Lets_do_this.

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  5. I like the idea since pesticides are expensive and most smallholder farmers in Malawi cannot afford to buy. Looking forward to the positive outcome.

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  6. This research can provide a sustainable and inexpensive solution to the FAW problem affecting Small Holder Farmer Communities in Sub Saharan Africa. It can also reduce the overdependence on synthetic pesticides and foster environmental sustainability. Keep it up


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