Home ENGLISH Plant pests: The biggest threat to food security?
There are numerous organisms, both Microorganisms and Macro organisms that harms or destroys garden plants, trees, etc. Microorganisms cause
Abnormal conditions in a plant that interferes with its vital physiological processes. Macro organisms also cause the same in the sector and some of them are Nocturnal (active at night), they eat and destroy everything if not protected.
The agriculture sector in Somaliland has evolved, most farmers are farming with small scale farms lacking the skills and technology to combat diseases and pests. These small farmers have struggled to produce food and decrease the damage inflicted by pests, and the prevalence of pests and diseases has significantly limited the attainment of higher yields in all crops, but particularly with vegetables and cereal crops, where losses of up to 100 percent are reported.
The prevalence of pests and diseases are usually attributed to lack of crop protection extension services combined with lack of access to information and inputs for pest and disease management. The threat to agriculture from pests and diseases remains high owing to the absence of appropriate strategies and alternatives for pest and disease control.
Therefore, careful assessment of local conditions (such as climate, crop characteristics, agricultural practices, soil quality, water quality and Government regulations) is required to reduce pest prevalence. Despite a clear increase in pesticide use, crop losses have not significantly decreased during the past 20 years. Increased crop productivity requires adequate crop protection because an increase in potential yields is often associated with increased vulnerability to damage inflicted by pests. Ineffective crop protection by pesticides because of pest resistance requires renewed agricultural innovation. Concomitantly, enhanced integrated pest management (IPM) adoption requires a better understanding of not only the biology and population dynamics of pests, but also how growers make pest management decisions.
Pest such as desert locus, Quiella birds (locally known as Hamare), fall army worms, Tuta absoluta, are the most important plant pests in the country. The red sea area has been a breeding site for locusts for many years and with suitable weather conditions out breaks of swarms can be expected. Outbreaks of swarms of locust from West Africa also arrive in Somaliland and affect the area.
The Desert Locust Control Unit of the Ministry of Agricultural Development is concerned with the management of locust control.
Plant pests and diseases also affect food crops, causing significant losses to farmers and threatening food security. The spread of plant pests and diseases has increased dramatically in recent years. Globalization, trade and climate change, as well as reduced resilience in production systems due to decades of agricultural intensification, have all played a part. Trans boundary plant pests and diseases can easily spread to several countries and reach epidemic proportions. Outbreaks and upsurges can cause huge losses to crops and pastures, threatening the livelihoods of vulnerable farmers and the food and nutrition security of millions at a time. Locusts, armyworm, fruit flies and Tuta absolutaare among the most destructive trans boundary plant pests and diseases that need to be mapped out.
Burning plant residues and ploughing the soil is traditionally considered necessary for phytosanitary reasons: to control pests, diseases and weeds.
One important element to achieve this is crop rotation to reduce the pest-risks associated with monocultures, interrupting the infection chain between subsequent crops (different sowing dates and distances between fields with the same crops) and making full use of the physical and chemical interactions between different plant species.
However, Local farmers in Somaliland lack resistant cultivars and varieties, and there is inadequate cultural practices that minimize the pressure and maximize biological prevention of pests and diseases.
Ministry of agriculture has to open plant clinics in major regions to diagnose of plant samples submitted by farmers are for analyses in the lab, results of the analysed will be interpreted and relative recommendations will be given accordingly.
Therefore , continuous trainings are needed to be given for farmers in the following areas:
Training for the staff in diagnosing plant diseases
Capacity building for lab staff of the lab to be enhanced
Training farmers in safe use pesticide
Safe Disposal of pesticide and Safe application methods
Establish pesticides law, regulations and procedures, and regular quality control of all agro dealers importingpesticides in the country.
Conducting technical trainings, workshops, seminars, for capacity building of department of Plant protection
Pest and disease forecasting techniques where available.
Understand and use non-chemical pest and disease management practices.
Store and use agrochemicals according to legal requirements, e.g. registration for individual crops, rates, timings, and pre-harvest intervals.
Assure that agrochemicals are only applied by specially trained knowledgeable persons.
Assure that equipment used for the handling and application of agrochemicals complies with established safety and maintenance standards.
Maintain accurate records of agrochemical use.
Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi