No stranger to the Victoria Falls: The fall armyworm marches on menacingly

Fall armyworm Zambia
Fall armyworm feeding on maize kernels at Kasiya village

The town of Livingstone, in the Southern Province of Zambia is world renowned for its magnificent views of the Victoria Falls. Annually, thousands of visitors flock this town to awe at one of the seven natural wonders of the world. A few kilometres away from this picturesque view lies Kazungula, a small border town between Zambia and Botswana, on the north bank of the Zambezi River. This area is lucky to have plenty of rain, and the residual moisture that remains in the soil enables farmers to plant a second crop of maize, referred to locally as “winter maize”. What would seemingly be a blessing has, however, become a quandary for the thousands of maize growers in Kazungula. The invasion of fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda into this area has conspired against the farmers to ensure they do not exploit this natural resource to its fullest benefit. First reported by Zambia to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in early 2017, fall armyworm is present in all ten of Zambia’s provinces and continues to rampage the country unabatedly.

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Taking on Fall Armyworm in Africa: The search for effective natural enemies

The Fall Armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda has emerged as a serious threat to food security for millions of smallholder producers in Africa due to its rapid spread across the continent and extensive damage to staple cereals. At the last count, at least 28 countries were reported to be affected by the pest in Africa.

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