Fall armyworm in Africa: communicating out of a crisis

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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.

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Progress made on fall armyworm, but greater effort needed

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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.

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Citizen Scientists attempt traditional solutions against fall armyworm

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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.

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Plans for strategic action to tackle invasive species in Africa advance

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CABI speakers at the recent Tackling Invasive Species in Africa Workshop in Nairobi.
Left to right: Dr Roger Day (Programme Executive, Invasive Species), Dr Dennis Rangi (Director General, International Development), and Dr Arne Witt (Coordinator, Invasive Species Management)

Plans towards developing a comprehensive strategy that will enable sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to deal more proactively and effectively with invasive species have advanced significantly.

This milestone has been achieved through a recently concluded workshop co-organised by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and CABI, with support from the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC).

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A can of worms: fall armyworm invasion in Africa

Spodoptera frugiperda larva (fall armyworm) on Maize
Spodoptera frugiperda larva (fall armyworm) on Maize

By CABI’s Roger Day. Reblogged from the Food and Business Knowledge Portal

The fall armyworm is still invading regions in Africa. Since 2016 this worm has been spreading across sub-Saharan Africa and has been officially identified in 11 countries. Roger Day from the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) elaborates on its dangers in this blog and provides recommendations for governments and farmers.

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Removal of invasive shrub could be an easy way to help reduce malaria transmission

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Removing the flowers of an invasive shrub from mosquito-prone areas might be a simple way to help reduce malaria transmission, according to a new study published in the open access Malaria Journal. Removing the flowers from villages in Mali decreased the local mosquito vector population by nearly 60%. Continue reading