By Peter Mutai NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Small-scale farmers across the East
African region are likely to grapple with severe food insecurity
due to the recent fall armyworm invasion on key staples,
scientists warned on Sunday.
director of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement
Center’s (CIMMYT) Global Maize Program, said the virulent pest
has so far damaged an estimated 287,000 hectares of maize in the
region since last year.
last year in farmers’ fields confirmed the pest is spreading
fast in Kenya and Uganda. It poses a significant risk to the two
countries’ quest to tackle food insecurity against a backdrop of
drought,” Boddupalli said during an interview with Xinhua in
He disclosed that
the armyworm infestation was discovered in three Kenyan counties
namely Embu, Kisii and Machakos as well as Namulonge, Kasese and
Gulu regions of Uganda.
The fall armyworm
whose botanical name is Spodoptera frugiperda can cause an
estimated 73-percent crop failure and resist pesticides if its
larvae develop into advanced stages.
Boddupalli said that
CIMMYT and national agricultural research partners have been
monitoring the spread of the fall armyworm in Kenya, Uganda and
He urged national
agricultural research organizations in the region to develop a
robust integrated pest management system that include early
warning to help farmers combat armyworm invasion effectively.
that scientists at CIMMYT are currently researching on improved
maize varieties that can resist the pest’s attack.
“We must explore a
range of options like use of pesticides and biological pest
control methods to limit the damage of army worms on staple
crops,” said Boddupalli
He noted biological
pest control methods alone can reduce armyworm infestation by 30
Originated from the
Americas, the fall armyworm is a new pest to Africa, first
discovered in Nigeria before spreading to central, southern and
now eastern African region late last year.