Capacity building for sustainability: Agriculture extension officers trained on IPM

Research findings from the CHIESA project indicate that due to the changing climate, increasing temperatures are projected to worsen the impacts of insect pests on staple and cash crops, such as stem borers on maize, coffee berry borers and coffee stem borers on coffee, diamondback moths on crucifers, and fruit flies on avocado and citrus which will adversely affect food security and livelihoods of small-scale farmers on the highlands and montane regions of eastern Africa. Additionally, projections on establishment indexes show range expansion of the harmful lowland species to the higher altitudes above 1,200 m.a.s.l. and increase of the number of pest generations across all altitudes. Thus by year 2055 damage is expected to increase in most agro-ecological areas in the highlands. Available integrated pest management (IPM) technologies for the emerging pests need to be widely disseminated and promoted in order to reduce smallholder farmers’ dependence on synthetic pesticides and to cope with these impacts of climate and land use change by using ecosystem-based approaches.

AFERIA project’s overall objective is to enhance food security and ecosystem resilience in the mountain ecosystems even in the face of the changing climate. Building capacity and transfer of technology among beneficiary communities through the national and local agriculture offices is key in ensuring the extensive dissemination of appropriate technologies and methods, and reaching out to the smallholder farmers.

As a precursor to the commencement of technology transfer activities in the four AFERIA target areas, capacity building of the local agricultural extension officers is an important part of ensuring the sustainability of instituted climate change adaptation intervention activities.  The AFERIA Project, funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland held its first training of trainers in March 2017 at icipe Duduville Campus in Nairobi Kenya. Nine participants (four women and five men), representing the project sites of Taita Hills and Murang’a in Kenya and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, attended. The participants were local agriculture extension officers who directly deal with the farmers in each of their respective areas.

The training involved theory, laboratory and field visits to study in depth the different insect pests that affect maize, coffee, crucifers and fruits which are of great economic importance in East Africa, especially to the small holder farmers for both domestic and commercial use. However, their production has been constrained by pests which are responsible for major yield losses and negatively affecting the overall food security.

The five-day training agenda covered: how to recognize the infestation of the pests on different crops; identification of the different crop pest in their different developmental stage (egg, larvae, pupa and adult); learning methods to control the pests with focus mostly on biological control using parasitoids/natural enemies. These sessions were carried out in plenary sessions, in the icipe laboratories and in the field. The pests studied and their corresponding crops include: The Maize stem borers – (Busseola fusca, Sesamia calamistis and Chilo partellus); Coffee Berry Borer, Coffee Stem Borer and Antestia bug; Diamondback moth, thrips and Fruit fly.

The training was conducted by a variety of the crop pest specialists to give the participants an opportunity to learn from different experiences and knowledge. Discussion and sharing of field experiences among the participants was a vital part of the session because they were able to exchange knowledge and ideas on some of the agricultural challenges they encountered in their sites. Apart from gaining new knowledge, AFERIA also encourage the networking among the different beneficiaries to share and integrate their diverse skills for a richer learning experience.

The end of the training was crowned with a closing ceremony and awarding of certificates of participation.

Please click here to view photos of the training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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