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February 28th, 2017 / Southern Times, Zimbabwe

African plant and animal disease experts held a crisis meeting in Harare last week on the spiraling fall armyworm outbreak which is destroying maize crops and posing a major threat to food security and agricultural trade in east, central and southern Africa.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation together with the Zimbabwean government, SADC and the International Red Locust Control Organisation for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO – CSA) convened the regional technical meeting on transboundary crop pests and animal diseases.

This important meeting was convened to discuss appropriate responses to emerging transboundary crop pests and diseases that are threatening crop and livestock production.
Great emphasis was placed on how to stop the spread of the fall armyworm, a caterpillar that has damaged staple crops in what experts say are the ‘frontline’ states – Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. South Africa has also reported a few incidents while Ghana in West Africa has been affected too. Until 2016, the fall armyworm, was largely restricted to the Americas. In Brazil, where the fall armyworm is endemic, it has been estimated to cost US$600 million a year to control. Africa has been facing outbreaks of the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in the last few years which is different from the African armyworm (Spodoptera exempta). See more