Warmer temperatures increase the metabolism and reproductive rates of the pest
Fall Armyworm was first reported in July 2018 in Karnataka. Ever since, it has spread to its neighbouring states. Reports are now coming from West Bengal and Bihar as well. The initial damages are widespread as the pest is a voracious feeder. But we have reacted quickly. The Karnataka government, for example, has issued ad hoc recommendations for emergency response against it.
CABI in partnership with Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia through the National Agricultural Information Services (NAIS) has launched a national radio campaign focusing on the identification, prevention and management of fall armyworm. The campaign aims to help smallholder farmers in Zambia minimise fall armyworm losses and learn how to safely use chemicals.
Global agriculture faces a myriad of threats, of which one of the greatest is invasive species. With no native organisms to control them, invasive species such as plant pests and diseases spread out of control, damaging crops and risking the food security of developing countries.
Take a quick look at the map of the fall armyworm invasion. It gives you a good feel for the number of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa directly affected by a small caterpillar eating their staple crop – maize – at a rapid rate. As a communication professional working in agriculture, it has been the first time I have found it so easy to explain my work – “ah yes, you are working on this ‘worm’… it is causing so many problems for farmers here” is the response I now get.
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.
Plantix is a diagnostic app that uses image recognition software and AI. It is being used to halt the advance of the fall armyworm pest.
An app that uses artificial intelligence to identify plant disease is being deployed in India as an early-warning system to stop the advance of a crop-destroying caterpillar that is having a devastating impact on maize crops in Africa.