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Armyworms still spreading in Africa despite interventions

Staff Writer |
Fall armyworms (FAW) are likely to spread to many African countries due to suitable climate despite interventions by the governments, scientists said.

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The scientists from the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) said the spread may be affected by the desert to the North and the predominant South-Easterly winds that may act as a brake.

"We expect FAW to spread to the limits of its viable African habitat within the next few cropping seasons," the report says.

According to the report, the armyworm's presence and impact are also to be experienced in countries including Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal, Liberia, and Cote d'Ivoire, and Sudan, where it has not been reported before.

The study notes that the high environmental suitability on the Mediterranean coast in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, is increasing the possible spread of this insect to Europe, and the high suitability areas in Ethiopia that could enable the pest to progress towards the Middle East and Asia.

According to CABI, 28 countries have officially reported the pest on their territory, compared to 12 in April 2017. Two countries have stated that FAW is absent from the country.

A further nine countries have conducted or are presently conducting surveys, and either strongly suspect its presence or are awaiting official confirmation, at the time of publication.

The report indicates that FAW has the potential to cause maize yield losses between $2.4 million and $6.1 millio U.S. dollars per annum in Africa, in the absence of any control methods, in just 12 maize-producing countries.

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