by AbduRahman Beshir, Hari Kumar Shrestha and Bandana Pradhan
The invasive agricultural pest Fall Armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda, is considered a threat to global food security. Originally from the Americas, the pest was identified in Africa in 2016 and was first detected in India in 2018, where it is causing significant loss to farmers in Karnataka and other Southern Indian states. The presence of FAW has recently been confirmed in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and unofficially in Thailand. There is a high probability that the migratory pest will reach Nepal soon. The deadly pest has a voracious appetite for maize and other crops and its impact would be huge for the Nepalese farmers and economy. There are climatic conditions in Nepal are suitable for the establishment of FAW populations, which can potentially cause up to 100 percent crop loss in maize if not managed properly. Therefore, urgent attention and preparedness on the threat of FAW is crucial.
Aiming to raise awareness and sensitize stakeholders on this subject, a workshop was organized where scientists, agriculture experts, entomologists, government, private sector, academia, USAID and other relevant stakeholders discussed potential solutions to combat threats of FAW if and when the pest is reported in Nepal. The event was jointly organized by the Feed the Future Nepal Seed and Fertilizer project, the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab and the Plant Protection Society of Nepal on November 30, 2018 in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Despite significant efforts to control the spread of the invasive Fall Armyworm, first detected in Africa in 2016, the pest keeps advancing to new areas in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
The effects of its insatiable appetite continue to be felt across the
continent as it feeds on many crops in addition to maize, with for
instance an increasingly growing appetite for sorghum and
millet. Without appropriate action, the Fall Armyworm threatens to cause
billions of dollars in annual damage to African food staples.
International consortium established to connect research with practical field solutions against pest
NAIROBI (Kenya) — As the invasion of the voracious fall armyworm threatens to cause US$3-6 billion in annual damage to maize and other African food staples, 35 organizations announced today the formation of a global coalition of research for development (R4D) partners, focused on developing technical solutions and a shared vision of how farmers should fight against this pest. After causing extensive crop damage in Africa, the presence of the fall armyworm was recently confirmed in India.
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.