A fall armyworm found on maize plants in Khamman district, Telangana state, India. Photo: ICAR-Indian Institute of Maize Research
The fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda, a devastating insect-pest, has been identified for the first time on the Indian subcontinent. Native to the Americas, the pest is known to eat over 80 plant species, with a particular preference for maize, a main staple crop around the world. The fall armyworm was first officially reported in Nigeria in West Africa in 2016, and rapidly spread across 44 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Sightings of damage to maize crops in India due to fall armyworm mark the first report of the pest in Asia.
A farmer who took part in the KIT study in Bihar, India. Photo: Genevieve Audet-Bélanger/KIT.
Maize is a staple food in many developing countries, and ensuring that smallholder farmers have access to and are familiar with the improved maize varieties available to them is critical in improving food security worldwide for farming families and consumers. In order to understand whether smallholder farmers have access to improved maize varieties and how the organization of the seed sector supports this, the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) recently conducted four studies on seed sector functioning and the adoption of improved maize varieties.
A woman in Bangladesh grinds maize to prepare food for her family
Maize agronomists from Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan jointly published a study examining the outlook for maize in their respective countries. The study, “Assessment of the Maize Situation, Outlook and Opportunities in Asia,” by Ranjit Kumar, K. Srinivas, M.A. Monayem Miah, Hassnain Shah, Hadijah A. Dahlan and Huanguang Qiu, was published in the extended summaries compilation for the Asia Maize Conference and Expert Consultation: “Maize for Feed, Nutrition and Environmental Security.”