Farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India, collected Fall Armyworms to observe their behaviour.
Photo: @FAO/Anne-Sophie Poisot


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After first being detected in India last year, Fall Armyworm is spreading across Asia. Awareness programmes aim to inform and train farmers on integrated pest management techniques to counter the infestation.

Fall Armyworm is sweeping across Asia, alarming smallholder farmers and threatening livelihoods, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported in March 2019. 

The insect is native to the Americas. However, since 2016 it has been aggressively moving ever eastwards, sweeping across Africa, and making landfall for the first time in Asia last summer. Fall Armyworm was first detected in India in July 2018 and by January of this year, it had spread to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and China’s Yunnan Province.

In the case of Sri Lanka, there were reports that up to 40 000 hectares had been infested, damaging some 20 per cent of its crops. China is the biggest maize producer in Asia, and second largest producer globally. While economic losses in China and in the other Asian countries have not yet been tallied, estimates of economic damage from Fall Armyworm in Africa ranged from 1 to 3 billion USD.

Asia prepares to counter Fall Armyworm infestation

When Fall Armyworm arrived in Africa in 2016, FAO and its member countries in Asia followed the progression closely – and planned for its arrival on this continent.

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