Fall armyworm. <br/>Photo: ©  FAO/ Leonard Makombe
Fall armyworm.
Photo: © FAO/ Leonard Makombe

22.03.2017

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Fall armyworm outbreak is threatening food security in southern Africa that is reeling from the effects of consecutive droughts. This pest is relatively new to the African continent; in the past it occurred mainly in the Americas.

A fall armyworm outbreak, the first emergence of the pest in southern Africa, is causing considerable crop damage in some countries, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported in February 2017.

If the pest damage aggravates, it could dampen prospects for good crop harvests anticipated in the current farming season. Maize, a staple food in the region, has been the most affected, as well as other cereals including sorghum, millet and wheat.

According to FAO experts, preliminary reports indicate the possible presence of the pest in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Zambia has reported that almost 90 000 hectares of maize have been affected, forcing farmers to replant their crops. In Malawi, some 17 000 hectares have so far been affected while in Namibia, approximately 50 000 hectares of maize and millet have been damaged and in Zimbabwe up to 130 000 hectares could be affected thus far.

Fall armyworm is a relatively new pest from the Americas, whose presence on the African continent was first reported in Sao Tome and Principe around January 2016.

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