Insect pest destroys maize crops in Africa

Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 07 February 2017, 01:50 hrs, UTC, Post #105.


Reporter:  Helen Biggs (BBC).

Accessed on 07 February 2017, 01:50 hrs, UTC.

Please click link to read the full story.


Another human crisis has been added to the ongoing civil strife in Africa and the Middle East.  This time, the threat is the fall army worm which is devastating maize crops in Africa and could spread to farming areas in the Mediterranean and Asia.  The pest, originally from North and South America, may have been introduced through uninspected produce.

According to BBC reporter Helen Briggs, The Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences (Cabi) and the UN’s Farm and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have sent urgent appeals for help in stopping this crop destroying scourge.

“Dr Jayne Crozier, of Cabi, said the fall army worm’s presence had now been confirmed in west Africa and was thought to be present in the south and east of the continent, many parts of which rely on maize for their staple diet.”

“It’s possibly been there for some time and it’s causing a lot of damage now,” she told BBC News.

“The recent discovery of fall armyworm in Africa will be a huge threat to food security and also to trade in the region.”

Ms. Biggs adds that an emergency meeting will be held to discuss what can be done to help farmers cope with the pest:

“The FAO is to hold an emergency meeting in Harare between 14 and 16 February to decide emergency responses to the fall armyworm threat.

It says the pest has been confirmed in Zimbabwe and preliminary reports suggest it may also be present in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

An investigation by Cabi has found that the fall armyworm is established in Ghana.

Experts at Cabi say it could take several years to develop effective methods to control the pest.

And they say there is confusion over the identity of the fall armyworm as it is similar to other types of armyworm, which are already present in Africa.

Zambia has used army planes to spray affected areas with insecticides.”


In addition to ongoing wars, the spectre of starvation in an already drought-stricken continent threatens to cause even more human misery. The immigration issue could get more serious if African farmers are forced to give up their livelihoods and seek better lives elsewhere.

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Russell Roberts

Hawaii Intelligence Digest


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