HARARE – The United States is partnering with 350 000 Zimbabwean farmers and other local experts to stop the spread of the fall armyworm.
The caterpillar is native to North and South America, though it has already spread to other parts of Africa including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The crop-eating caterpillars known as fall armyworms have damaged crops across Zimbabwe.
“The United States is partnering with 350 000 Zimbabwean farmers and other local experts to stop the spread of this dangerous pest,” USAid Zimbabwe mission director Stephanie Funk said.
“This is an important part of USAid’s ongoing efforts to improve food security in Zimbabwe by strengthening the resilience and productivity of small-scale farmers.”
If proper control measures are not implemented, the pest could cause extensive maize yield losses, estimated between $76 million and $191 million in Zimbabwe, according to the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) in September 2017.
The US Agency for International Development (USAid), in coordination with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) and their respective implementing partners, created a hands-on fact sheet to help small-scale farmers combat the spread of fall armyworm.
This fact sheet, along with the new publication Fall Armyworm in Africa: A Guide for Integrated Pest Management, First Edition, January 2018, offers mitigation measures that are easy to understand and implement by farmers, extension agents, researchers, and governments.
The guide was jointly produced by USAid, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), and the CGIAR Research Programme on Maize (CRP MAIZE).
“USAid/Zimbabwe is also working with CIMMYT, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and a University of Zimbabwe entomologist to bring stakeholders together from all relevant sectors to share information and create a platform for continued open dialogue to tackle the voracious fall armyworm,” the US embassy said in a statement.