First reported in Africa in September 2016, fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is now present in most sub-Saharan countries, where severe damage in maize fields has been observed. Kenya is one the countries that has not been spared the wrath of this invasive pest. Since it was first reported in Kenya’s western region (Trans Nzoia, Busia, and Bungoma counties) in March 2017, it has spread to 42 counties including the major seed and maize production areas of the Rift valley, coastal, and western regions.
Invasive apple snails, formerly known as Golden Apple Snails (GAS), are an invasive species that pose a threat to crops, ecosystems and even humans. These natives of South America have spread to many other parts of the world, through both deliberate and accidental introductions. Called apple snails because they can grow to the size of an apple or a tennis ball, these molluscs can wreak havoc on both agriculture and the environment, and can also carry diseases that infect humans. Invasive apple snails have been listed among the world’s 100 most invasive species by IUCN/GISD. Belonging to the genus Pomacea, there are several species of apple snail that have become invasive. In Southeast Asia, the most important of these pest species are P. canaliculata and P. maculata (formerly known as P. insularum).
In response to the growing threat of invasive species, the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) has called for urgent action to tackle the global spread of invasive species, even as the recent fall armyworm outbreak casts doubts over Africa and Asia’s preparedness to fight the scourge. CABI is a not-for-profit organisation that draws on scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.
A training session was recently organized by CABI in Pakistan on the identification and management of Parthenium Hysterophorous to a variety of stakeholders. These activities were part of the Parthenium awareness campaign which CABI has launched under Action on Invasives, in the Sheikhupura district (Pilot district), Punjab focusing particularly on rural communities.
Since its confirmed arrival in Nigeria in 2016, the fall armyworm has conquered almost 25.5 million square kilometres of Sub-Saharan Africa, reaching as far east as Ethiopia, and as far south as South Africa. Now fall armyworm has reached beyond African shores and was recently confirmed in India, with CABI warning of its now impending rapid spread throughout Asia.
A new weapon in the fight against the fall armyworm caterpillar in Kenya is being launched giving thousands of smallholder farmers free expert help and advice on how to tackle the devastating pest through mobile SMS text messaging.