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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CABI launches programme to take Action on Invasive Species

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An extension officer in Ghana explaining how to manage Fall armyworm; photo: CABI

Millions of the world’s most vulnerable people face problems with invasive weeds, insects and plant diseases , which are out of control and have a major impact on global prosperity, communities and the environment. Developing countries are disproportionately affected. The global cost of the world’s 1.2 million invasive species is estimated at $1.4 trillion per year – close to 5 percent of global gross domestic product. In East Africa, five major invasive species alone cause $1 billion in economic losses to smallholder farmers each year.

In response, CABI is today launching a unique, global programme with the aim to protect and improve the livelihoods of 50 million poor rural households impacted by invasive species. The DFID and DGIS funded Action on Invasives programme will champion an environmentally sustainable, cross-sectoral and regional approach to dealing with invasive species.

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