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.
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.
A new Fall Armyworm Portal, which includes the very latest reports and research regarding the devastating crop pest, now features as part of a major upgrade of CABI’s Invasive Species Compendium (ISC) launched today.
The portal, created as part of the CABI-led Action on Invasives programme – funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Netherland’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) – is now an integral part of the ISC, which receives over 1.5 million visits a year.
The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, is making headlines worldwide for all the wrong reasons. The caterpillar crop pest, native to the Americas, was reported in Africa for the first time last year and is now rapidly marching across the continent. It is a voracious pest of maize and other staple crops and has already destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of farmland. As such, it risks devastating smallholder livelihoods throughout Africa. Given that CABI scientists predict it could reach Europe and Asia in a matter of years, it looks set to quickly become a global problem.
The case for action against fall armyworm is overwhelming. On the ground, CABI will support national extension services to help farmers identify the pest quickly and accurately, contribute to awareness-raising and conduct studies to work out the best ways to control it that are not overly dependent on insecticides. Alongside these efforts, CABI also has a range of freely-available materials to help people understand and manage fall armyworm. Continue reading