Fall Armyworm Threat to African Farmers, Says FAO

Addis Ababa October 29/2018  Fall Armyworm has reportedly covered nearly all sub-Saharan Africa countries posing a major threat to maize and sorghum farms across the continent.

Opening a conference on fall armyworm here today, Agriculture State Minister Eyasu Abrha said “maize in Africa has been a staple food for more than 300 million people and is an important strategic crop where 95 percent of the maize produced every year is consumed.”

Fall Armyworm (FAW) is thus threatening the livelihood of millions of poor African farmers, it was learned.

Over 600,000 hectares of maize was affected by fall armyworm in Ethiopia in meher alone. Of this, 90 percent was protected by traditional prevention mechanisms.

FAO Plant Production and Protection Division Director, Hans Dreyer told ENA that “in Africa there are roughly 40 million hectares of land planted with maize and that means almost 40 million small scale farmers are affected by this pest (FAW).”

Fall Armyworm covered most African countries in a very short span of time with the exception to North Africa and continued to spread in Ethiopia and South Sudan, Dreyer added.

AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Amira Elfadil said managing the problem of fall armyworm is high on the agenda of the African Union.

“Food security promotes social protection,” she said, adding that “in Africa women contribute to at least 50 percent of the agricultural labor.”

The three-day conference has brought together 223 researchers, scientists, policy makers and other stakeholders.

Fall Armyworm, a highly destructive insect-pest indigenous to the Americas, has been reported in Africa since January 2016 and FAW is capable of attacking over 80 plant species with a major preference for maize.

Food and Agriculture Organization has established Fall Armyworm Monitoring and Early Warning System (FAMEWS). The mobile application is now available in 13 languages and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.