Researchers, biological pest control innovators heighten fight against Fall Armyworm

KENYA – AgBiTech LLC, global leader and innovator of biological pest control in partnership with UPL have formally registered Fawligen, a biological control for Fall Armyworm in Kenya.

UPL Limited, is an Indian multinational company that manufactures and markets agrochemicals and will be the main distributor of Fawligen in multiple countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Fawligen, belongs to the new IRAC mode of action Group 31 (host-specific occluded pathogenic viruses), a biological insecticide that contains a nucleopolyhedrovirus specific to the Fall Armyworm (FAW) pest.

According to AgBiTech, it underwent multiple evaluations and regulatory trials between 2018 and 2020 with organizations such as CABI and KALRO in Kenya before it was submitted for registration to regulatory authorities.

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“Fawligen is a non-toxic, non-hazardous, biological product for FAW control and UPL is thrilled to have it as part of our portfolio to offer to farmers in Kenya for managing FAW safely,” Mr. Shanni Srivastava, UPL Sub region Head  for East Africa and Middle East said,

Dr. Shachi Gurumayum, Head of Africa and South Asia for AgBiTech, added, “We are excited to start 2021 with the registration of Fawligen in Kenya.

“It is a proven technology that has been helping farmers manage FAW in countries like Brazil, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zambia and more. We intend to bring it to Kenyan farmers in the upcoming season.”

This solution will offer Kenyan farmers the long-awaited assistance to the rampant infestation of the invasive pest which was first detected in Nigeria in 2016 as its primary origin.

To curb the menace in the West African country, AgBiTech recently appointed Golden Agri Inputs Limited (GAIL), subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria Group to be its exclusive distributor of a biological tool in the nation.

“Fawligen is a non-toxic, non-hazardous, biological product for FAW control and UPL is thrilled to have it as part of our portfolio to offer to farmers in Kenya for managing FAW safely.”

Mr. Shanni Srivastava – UPL Sub region Head  for East Africa and Middle East

African farmers have been struggling with destructive pests over the years with crop losses in the region due to infestations estimated at 49% of the expected total crop yield each year, according to the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International.

The recent invasion by FAW has led to yield losses of 8 – 20 million tonnes of maize on the continent.

Maize is attacked by diverse species of native and invasive stemborer pests in Africa, however, the FAW has become the most devastating.

It attacks all the developmental stages of the maize plant attracting an unprecedented scale of broad-spectrum application of chemical insecticides by the growers.

This has led to researchers and scientists both in the private and public sectors to rack brains in a bid to come up with sustainable solutions.

In light of this, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) has launched mass releases of indigenous natural enemies of fall armyworm (FAW) in Kenya.

Technologies such as the use of icipe’s Push-pull technology, maize-legume intercropping and biopesticides have proven to be a key part of sustainable management strategy for FAW, particularly under smallholder maize production systems in Africa.

These technologies are eco-friendly and compatible with the use of biological control agents.

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