Global Agriculture

UPL to distribute first ever organic tool to tackle Fall Armyworm across Africa

08 September 2020, Kigali, RW:​ UPL has announced the signing of an exclusive distribution agreement for the first ever organic tool to combat the invasive pest Fall Armyworm (FAW) across the African continent. The announcement was made on the opening day of Africa’s flagship annual agricultural summit, the African Green Revolution Forum 2020.

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Fall Armyworm poses a significant threat to food security in Sub-Saharan Africa and the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers. In its larvae stage, it feeds on the leaves and stems of more than 80 plant species – both staple food crops and cash crops – including maize, rice, cereals, vegetables, sorghum and sugarcane. UPL has partnered with AgBiTech, a global leader in biological pest controls, to enable farmers across Africa to gain access to ‘Fawligen’, a new OMRI-certified organic biological tool for controlling Fall Armyworm.

A pest native to the Americas, FAW was first reported in Africa in 2016 and has since spread to 44 African countries. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), it could threaten the food security of more than 300 million people in Africa, and cause significant economic losses, up to US$4.8 billion from maize production alone. Up to 17.7 million tonnes of maize could be lost annually to FAW on the continent – enough to feed tens of millions of people.

Exclusive distribution agreement for Fawligen

UPL’s exclusive distribution agreement for Fawligen offers the opportunity for farmers across Africa to access an effective and safe solution for the management of FAW. Fawligen contains a naturally occurring virus of Fall Armyworm, which suppresses the caterpillar population without damaging the environment, impacting beneficial species, or putting farmer health at risk. Fawligen’s self-replicating properties mean a farmer only needs to apply the insecticide once to achieve control for the whole growing season.

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Marcel Dreyer, Regional Head for Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, UPL, said:

“UPL is focused on bringing more environmentally-friendly inputs to the crop protection market to give farmers greater choice of safe, effective and sustainable crop protection solutions. We are pleased to be able to bring Fawligen to market – a highly effective biological tool which will help farmers to manage a pest that causes significant damage every year to key crops in 44 African countries. Controlling this pest will have a positive impact on small farmers’ livelihoods and food security as a whole.”

Fawligen has been tested and evaluated by international organizations in Africa, including CABI and KALRO in Kenya, IASCO in the Ivory Coast and CSIR-CRI in Ghana. UPL’s distribution agreement for Fawligen covers the whole of Africa, except Nigeria. Fawligen will be widely available in Africa within the year and will have comprehensive coverage thereafter.