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Tackling the menace of Fall Armyworm to bolster farmers’ income in India

03-11-2019 03:56 PM CET | Energy & Environment

Press release from: ISAAA

Tackling the menace of Fall Armyworm to bolster farmers’

• SABC launches an ambitious multi-year “PROJECT SAFFAL (प्रोजैक्ट सफ़ल)” an acronym for Safeguarding Agriculture & Farmers against Fall Armyworm in India
• Invites partners from agricultural value chain to join the fight against fall armyworm and bolster farmers’ income and livelihood

Mumbai (March 08, 2019) – The South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) – a not-for-profit scientific organization launches an ambitious & multi-year project SAFFAL (प्रोजैक्ट सफ़ल) to safeguard agriculture and farmers against fall armyworm in India. The project is supported by FMC India Pvt Limited, Mumbai, a global leader in sustainable crop protection and will work in collaboration with key stakeholders from agricultural value chains which potentially may get impacted due to the spread of Fall Armyworm in India. The project SAFFAL aims at developing a suite of techniques, good agricultural practices and control measures along with educational material for various stakeholders to enhance farmers’ preparedness to tackle the menace of fall armyworm.

Fall Armyworm (FAW) (Spodoptera frugiperda), a native of Americas, is an invasive pest spreading across the world, with its incidence in African agriculture in 2016 followed by its first-time appearance on maize in the Indian state of Karnataka in August 2018. In last two seasons, Kharif & Rabi 2018, the fall armyworm has emerged as a major threat to farmers & Indian agriculture due to its high incidence and consequent damage especially to maize. The early emergence in crop life cycle, voracious feeding habit, large-scale aggressive behavior, high reproduction, fast migration and irreparable nature of crop damage, all make it a key pest. Notably, the FAW feeds on many host plants and has been found on sweet corn, baby corn, maize, sugarcane and sorghum, and can feed on many other agriculturally important food & feed crops in India. As of now, the pest is reported in the states of Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.

In this context, the FAW presents a significant challenge to smallholder farmers by substantially increasing cost of production, reducing productivity and farmers’ income and thus a considerable threat to Indian agriculture. “Practical experiences of successfully dealing with pink bollworm in cotton through involvement of smallholder farmers will be explored and replicated to overcome the threat of fall armyworm”, stated Dr. CD Mayee, a renowned plant epidemiologist and the President of the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC), New Delhi. In the recent past, SABC in collaboration with key stakeholders has successfully implemented a massive program “war on pink bollworm” in Vidharbha region of Maharashtra.

FMC India, a leader in the crop protection industry in India, has come forward to support and sponsor the fight against FAW as a part of its commitment to sustainable agriculture and promoting IPM. “We at FMC are truly committed to support the Indian farmers with the right tools and technologies to help make agriculture sustainable. Supporting Project SAFFAL is key to the farmers’ livelihoods, which is what FMC is all about,” said Pramod Thota, President of FMC India.

Bethwyn Todd, the Asia Pacific President of FMC, who was in Mumbai to sign the sponsorship agreement with SABC on the project said, “Fall Armyworm is a highly destructive pest and is known globally to have caused a serious challenge to farmers across continents and across crops. Education is the key to success about managing this pest. We are committed to partnering with farmers, the scientific community and governments in tackling this challenge and Project SAFFAL is one such example.”

Fall armyworm has caused extensive damage to crops, especially Maize, which is very critical for the animal feed industry and also crops such as sugarcane and millets. Consequently, India is forced to import maize for feed and starch industries, which together consume nearly 80% of the domestic production. “This year, due to the FAW and unfavorable weather, maize production fell by about 15 - 20%. As a result, prices have shot up turning the economics of the fast-growing feed industry unviable. This pest can cause substantial harm to the harvest and eventually, profitability of the farmers. Ultimately, rise in raw material prices will push the prices of meat, egg and milk up and will negatively impact the consumers” said Raghavan Sampathkumar, Executive Director, CLFMA of India, the apex association that represents India’s dynamic livestock sector.

The salient features of Project SAFFAL (प्रोजैक्ट सफ़ल) are summarized as below;
• Develop knowledge resources on Fall armyworm based on global scientific data and experiences and include verifiable reports from domestic sources
• Status report on fall armyworm, its biology, life cycle, feeding habits, adverse economic impact assessment, distribution and migration and host pest interactions to be collected, collated and expertly analysed in Indian context
• Create a dedicated web-based portal with repository of information and network of institutions to spread information in India
• Organize farm demonstrations in collaboration with respective public sector institutions to showcase IPM package of practices.
• Build capacity & skills of smallholder farmers by organizing on the farm programs, field visits and farmers’ mela at demonstration field to spread information about best practices.

About SABC:
The South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) is a not-for-profit scientific organization that aims at serving as a knowledge hub, helps in bridging the knowledge gap between science and society and facilitates the transfer of innovative farm technologies from the lab to the land. More about SABC at:

FMC Corporation, an agricultural sciences company, provides innovative solutions to growers around the world with a robust product portfolio fueled by a market-driven discovery and development pipeline in crop protection, plant health, and professional pest and turf management. FMC Corporation employs approximately 6,500 employees around the globe. To learn more, please visit

Drs CD Mayee, Govind Gujar & Bhagirath Choudhary

South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC)

Level 1, Regus, Red Fort Capital Towers

Bhai Veer Singh Marg, Gole Market

New Delhi-110001

M: +91 9999851051

Tel: +91 11 6678 2494

Fax: +91 11 6678 2403



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