A new project in South Sudan is combatting the fall armyworm, an insect that can cause significant damage to crops, particularly maize. With more than half of South Sudan’s current population—nearly 6.2 million people—in need of life-saving food assistance, safeguarding food security where possible is essential. Launched in January 2019 as a partnership between CABI, a private sector partner – AgBiTech, CIMMYT, FAO, USAID, and the South Sudan Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), the project is piloting the use of a baculovirus biopesticide called Fawligen.
Tuta absoluta is a major invasive pest that causes devastating crop damage worldwide. Insecticides are heavily relied upon to help curb their numbers, but because of problems with increased insecticide resistance and the environmental impacts of insecticides, scientists are trying to find new ways of fighting this pest.
A major new report published by CABI has today revealed that losses due to fall armyworm are lower than projected in 2017 and the pest is still primarily focussed on maize rather than any other potential host crops. Better monitoring, swift responses by governments and farmers and an increase of natural enemies attacking the pest all help in mitigating the devastating crop losses it can cause.
CABI’s experts in the biological control of agricultural pests and diseases have conducted the first major study of potential biological controls that could be used in the fight against the devastating fall armyworm which recently arrived in Africa.
Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, CABI’s Executive Director Global Operations, has unveiled a prototype Biopesticides Portal that facilitates the identification, sourcing and application of more environmentally-friendly, cost-effective and sustainable biological control products in the global fights against agricultural pests and diseases.
The CABI-led project was highlighted this week (20 March 2018) at the Biocontrol Africa conference in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of a presentation co-authored by Dr Steve Edgington, Dr Melanie Bateman and Dr Emma Jenner.
CABI has published an ‘evidence note’ report on the invasive Fall Armyworm pest, showing how the caterpillar could cause maize losses costing 12 African countries up to US$6.1 billion per annum, unless control methods are urgently put in place.