October,7,2022 | News

Introducing farmers to sweet potato weevil management techniques

 

Considered as one of the most devastating threats, to one of the most nutritious root crop there is to offer, the sweet potato weevil has always been a menace to the farming society both regionally and internationally. Gnawing its way through the continents of America, Africa and Asia. Though its origins as to whether it hails from the deepest parts of Africa or India is still much unclear. There is however, one thing that remains a constant, and that is the invasive and destructive nature of this ravenous, nuisance, that has the ability to cause damage to sweet potato tubers – whether in the field or in storage.

 

Most recently in the Bahamas, there was a recalling of weevil infested sweet potatoes, from 13 farms. As a result CARDI partnered with the Bahamian Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources, and Family Island Affairs, the Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA), The Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) and The Bahamas Agricultural & Industrial Corporation (BAIC), to investigate and determine the source(s) of the infestation as well as to introduce management techniques to farmers on controlling the pest.

 

Some of the integrated pest management (IPM) strategies introduced to farmers included: the use of clean planting material, treating planting material with an approved insecticide prior to planting, practicing good field sanitation such as the removal and proper disposal of crop residues and unharvested tubers, practicing crop rotation, harvesting the crop at maturity, use of pheromone traps and the use of approved pesticides.

 

The damage done by the sweet potato weevil is immense, as its larvae alters the look and edibility of the tuber as it borrows through, feeding on vines and tubers riddling it with darkened scars and faecal matter. Heavy infestation can lead to losses upwards of 90% as the weevil spends its entire life cycle on the host plant.

 

Past research conducted by CARDI, has shown that a combination of tactics have proven to be highly effective for controlling the pest.

 

As a follow up to this activity, the Institute will organize a series of trainings on sweet potato production, IPM and post-harvest technologies for farmers and agro processors.

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