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Fall armyworm 'threatens African farmers' livelihoods'

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  • Fall armyworm 'threatens African farmers' livelihoods'


    Fall armyworm 'threatens African farmers' livelihoods'
    By Helen Briggs BBC News
    6 February 2017
    From the section Science & Environment

    Scientists are calling for urgent action to halt the spread of a pest that is destroying maize crops and spreading rapidly across Africa.

    The fall armyworm poses a major threat to food security and agricultural trade, warns the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (Cabi).

    It says farmers' livelihoods are at risk as the non-native insect threatens to reach Asia and the Mediterranean.

    The Food and Agriculture Organization plans emergency talks on the issue.

    The fall armyworm, so called because it eats its way through most of the vegetation in its way as it marches through crops, is native to North and South America but was identified for the first time in Africa last year.

    Cabi chief scientist Dr Matthew Cock said: "This invasive species is now a serious pest spreading quickly in tropical Africa and with the potential to spread to Asia.

    "Urgent action will be needed to prevent devastating losses to crops and farmers' livelihoods."

    Scientists think the caterpillar or its eggs may have reached the continent through imported produce.

    Once established in an area, the adult moths can fly large distances and spread rapidly...

  • #2

    Emergency Harare meeting warns of 'huge' armyworm threat
    Reagan MASHAVAVE
    Agence France-Presse•February 13, 2017

    Harare (AFP) - International experts at emergency UN talks in Harare warned Tuesday that crop-eating armyworm caterpillars posed a serious threat to food supplies across several African countries.

    The outbreak has already caused damage to staple crops in Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana, with reports also suggesting Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia are affected.

    Experts say it appears to be the first time that the "fall armyworm" species from the Americas has devastated crops in Africa.

    David Phiri, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) coordinator for southern Africa, told delegates that the armyworm posed "a huge threat to food security."

    "We need to use our collective capacities to put up systems that will strengthen the resilience of our farmers," he said as talks opened.

    "The pest... appears to be moving into the region in a north to south trajectory."

    The first fall armyworms were seen in Nigeria and Togo last year, with one theory saying that they arrived in Africa on commercial flights from South America or in plants imported from the region.

    The caterpillars eat maize, wheat, millet and rice -- key food sources in southern and eastern Africa, where many areas are already struggling with shortages after years of severe drought.

    - 'Could be catastrophic' -

    Experts from 13 countries will spend three days in the Zimbabwean capital forming a battle plan to defeat the pests...