Scientists mobilize African and Latin American knowledge to protect Asia’s maize.
By Vanessa Meadu
When the destructive fall armyworm arrived in Asia in the summer of 2018, scientists were not taken by surprise. They had been anticipating its arrival on the continent as the next stage of its aggressive eastward journey, driven by changing climatic conditions and international trade routes. The pest, native to North and South America, had invaded and spread throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa within two years, severely damaging billions of dollars of maize crops and threatening food security for millions of people. Asian countries would have to mobilize quickly to cope with this new threat.
Eduardo Cruz Rojo did not come from a farming family, and
never expected to work in agriculture. However, this 26 year old from Alfajayucan,
Hidalgo, Mexico with a degree in logistics has been able to earn enough money
from agriculture to quit his office job just by employing innovative and
sustainable eco-friendly solutions on his maize farm to reduce pests and
increase yields—and he is helping other farmers in his community to do the
same. Eduardo was recently awarded the MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards 2019 – Latin
America in the Farmer category for this work.
The awards, an initiative of the CGIAR Research Program on
Maize (MAIZE), seek to recognize the contributions of young women and men who
are implementing innovations in Latin American maize-based agri-food systems.
This is the third instalment of the awards, following Asia in October 2018 and
Africa in May 2019. The awards ceremony took place at the 23rd Latin American
Maize Reunion in Monteria, Colombia on October 9, 2019.
The recent release of the Nepali version of the 3-D animation video “How to identify & scout Fall Armyworm,” will help the farming community in Nepal prepare for and mitigate the effects of the potential arrival of this devastating insect pest.
Originally from the Americas, Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) was identified in
Africa in 2016 and quickly spread to 44 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where
it caused major crop damage. The pest was first detected in India in 2018,
where it is causing significant loss to farmers in Karnataka and other Southern
Indian states. The ongoing spread of the pest in Asia was confirmed in early
2019 when it was detected in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
While the pest has not yet been detected in Nepal, it is important that farmers
are able to identify the insect pest and learn what to do if they encounter it
on their farms.