Briefing Note on FAO Actions on Fall Armyworm in Africa as of 31 January 2018

BACKGROUND

Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), FAW, is an insect native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. Its larval stage (photo) feeds on more than 80 plant species, including maize, rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops, and cotton. FAW can cause significant yield losses if not well managed. It can have a number of generations per year and the moth can fly up to 100 km per night. Its modality of introduction along with its biological and ecological adaptation across Africa are still speculative.

FAW was first detected in Central and Western Africa in early 2016 and since then has been reported and confirmed in all of mainland Southern Africa (except Lesotho), Madagascar, and Seychelles (Island State).
To-date, FAW has been detected and reported in almost all of Sub-Saharan Africa, except in Djibouti, Eritrea, and Lesotho. A map on page 6 shows the spread of the pest to-date. Since the pest was detected in Sudan, Egypt and Libya must be on alert.

FAW is a dangerous transboundary pest with a high potential to continually spread due to its natural distribution capacity and trade. Farmers will need significant support to sustainably manage FAW in their cropping systems through Integrated Pest Management.