East Africa: Armyworm Infestation - Mar 2017Ongoing
As millions of east African farmers seek to recover from a devastating drought, they face a new threat – the fall armyworm. The pest has been recently detected in Kenya and is suspected to have entered the country from Uganda. It is also known to be present in Burundi, Ethiopia and Rwanda. The fall armyworm was first reported in western Kenya by farmers in March 2017, and immediately confirmed by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation. The initial counties infested were Busia, TransNzoia, Bungoma, Uasin Gishu and Nandi. (FAO, 25 Apr 2017)
As of 23 May, Fall Armyworm has affected more than 143,000 hectares of land in major maize and wheat-producing counties [in Kenya]. [FAO] and the Ministry of Agriculture have adopted a planning response figure of 800,000 hectares, which requires US$33.5 million for pesticides and awareness campaigns in the medium term. US$6.6 million is required for an immediate response. (OCHA, UNCT Kenya, 23 May 2017)
In collaboration with [FAO] and other development partners, the Government of Ethiopia has intensified efforts to protect major maize growing areas from the ravage of the fall armyworm. The fall armyworm, which first arrived in Africa in 2016, was intercepted on a few hectares of irrigated maize fields in southern Ethiopia in the last week of February 2017. It has now covered about 52 962 hectares in 144 districts in three of the major maize-growing regional states – Gambella, Oromia and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR)...The Government of Ethiopia allocated nearly USD 2 million to tackle the problem. (FAO, 30 May 2017)
[F]all armyworm, which has caused extensive damage to maize crops in southern Africa, has spread to the east and has worsened the situation. In Kenya, the pest has so far affected about 200 000 hectares of crops, and in Uganda more than half the country's 111 districts are affected. (FAO, 14 Jul 2017)
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- The pest, which infested an estimated 17,521ha of maize out of over 60,000ha last year during season B was successfully controlled, but experts urge farmers to remain vigilant.
- Minister of Agriculture, Geraldine Mukeshimana said the fall armyworm still poses a threat to farms in parts of the country.
- FAO emphasises the need for farmer education and community action in curbing the spread of the pest.
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- Intercropping maize with drought-resistant greenleaf desmodium and planting Brachiaria grass on the farm’s edge helps curb fall armyworms.
Researchers have found intercropping maize with drought-resistant greenleaf desmodium and planting Brachiaria grass on the farm’s edge helps curb fall armyworms.
Desmodium and Brachiaria grass are high quality animal fodder plants.
Kenyan traders imported more than 77,500 tonnes of maize worth $31.2 million since January from its neighbours.
This is the highest amount of imports in the past five years as drought and the effects of the fall armyworm manifest in the country’s staple.
Kenyan traders have taken advantage of the low prices in Uganda’s Tororo, Gulu, Masindi and Lira regions to ship in the produce, buying a tonne for as low as $180 per tonne.
By ALLAN OLINGO
By LEONCE MUVUNYI
Rwanda is making arrangements to deliver food assistance to support more than 3,000 families in the Eastern Province who need urgent assistance to combat the worst effects of a prolonged drought.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources’ (Minagri), despite other parts of the country recording good harvests in season A this year, which is currently ending, numerous households in Eastern Province have been left stranded with little or no harvests, putting them at a risk of hunger.
African countries are facing a maize shortage and losses running into billions of dollars due to the devastation caused by the fall armyworm.
A new report released by the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (Cabi) shows that improper management of the armyworm could cost 10 of the continent’s major maize producing economies between $2.2 billion and $5.5 billion per year in lost maize harvests.
While Uganda produces close to four million tonnes of maize annually, Agriculture Minister Vincent Sempijja said that the impact of the armyworm infestation could be responsible for the loss of at least 450,000 tonnes of maize or $192.8 million worth of maize exports.
First reported in Nigeria in January 2016, the fall armyworm has since spread to Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Togo, and Ghana.
-Maize production is expected to decline by between 20 and 30 per cent this crop year due to insufficient long rains and infestation by the fall armyworm across 27 counties.
A ban on maize exports by Tanzania saw exports to Kenya plunge by 54 per cent below average, and mostly through informal channels, according to Ministry of Agriculture data.
- The thinking is driven by conclusions that the worm and its rapid spread might have been as a result of climate change.
- Currently, Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture is evaluating the extent of the damage caused by the worms’ invasion to the first season’s crop.
- Scientists advise that control measures be considered when egg masses are present on five per cent of the plants or when 25 per cent of the plants show damage symptoms and larvae are still present.
By HALIMA ABDALLAH
The pest has affected 100,000 hectares of maize plantation, further threatening food security.
Uasin Gishu has trained its sights on intensive sensitisation programmes for farmers, especially those who grow maize during the off-seasons.
The ministry has approved at least nine chemicals for controlling the pest.
By STANLEY KIMUGE
Kenyan maize farmers in the North Rift are battling re-infestation of the fall armyworm that is threatening the country's food security.
By ANDUALEM SISAY in Addis Ababa
The ongoing drought in the Horn and southern African countries and armyworms invasion, pose a major food security threat to the continent, official said.
The African Union Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture, Mrs Josefa Sacko, said armyworms affected maize production in close to half of the African countries, especially those already under stress due to the recent droughts in the Horn and southern Africa.