Some 20 Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Extension Officers and Researchers at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries are to take part in a training workshop, geared at combating the Beet Armyworm.
The workshop will be held from March 18 to 22, and March 25 to 26 at the Junction Guest House, in St. Elizabeth.
The last outbreak of the Beet Armyworm in 2012 saw over 45 hectares of crops being severely damaged by the pest, including 10 hectares of onion and eight hectares of escallion, valued at $30.9 million.
To tackle the pest, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries approached the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for assistance, and in October 2012, they signed a two-year project agreement titled: ‘Strengthening a National Beet Armyworm Programme’.
The FAO committed US$213,000 (J$20.25 million) of its Technical Co-operation programme resources to address the issue.
Through the project, the FAO will provide technical expertise and inputs to train extension officers and farmers using Farmer Field Schools and demonstration plots.
In November 2012, technical staff of the Research and Development Division and RADA began implementation of the project.
The FAO’s involvement is bolstered by a partnership with Agricultural Co-operative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Co-operative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA), which is providing resources to support the project, beginning with $644, 000.00 for the training course, which targets Extension Officers.
The workshop will be led by trainers from ACDI/VOCA, who will be using the Farmer Field School approach, designed specifically to address the beet armyworm problem, with the focus on farmers.
Entomologist, Dr. Kathy Dalip, who is a Consultant with the FAO, will also be participating in the workshop.
The Farmer Field School (FFS) is an approach used to get farmers together to solve common problems. They usually meet once a week in their community with trained FFS facilitators, where they carry out simple experiments and exercises, aimed at addressing problems being encountered in their fields, such as pests.
By Judith A. Hunter, JIS Reporter