Scientific innovation and multi-institutional collaboration will be needed in the fight against the deadly armyworm ravaging farms across Africa, according to a group of scientists who attended a stakeholders consultation meeting on the Fall Armyworm in Nairobi recently.
The scientists also called for quick, coordinated action and a massive awareness campaign if small holder farmers in Africa are to be saved from the menace of the armyworm. The fall armyworm, a recent interloper in Africa widely prevalent in the Americas attacks more than 80 different plant species, including maize, a major food staple in sub-Saharan Africa on which more than 200 million people depend. B.M. Prasanna, director of the Global Maize Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the CGIAR Research Program on Maize said the armyworm must be tackled with a holistic integrated pest management program.
The female fall armyworm can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time and can produce multiple generations very quickly without pause in tropical environments. Roger Day, sanitary and phytosanitary coordinator at the Center for Agricultural and Biosciences International (CABI) said the continent could lose up to $3billion in the coming year.