A so-called armyworm is threatening Africa’s food security, the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (Cabi) warned on Monday.
According to new research, the pest threatens the livelihood of thousands of farmers in East and West Africa and could soon reach Asia and the Mediterranean.
CABI Chief Scientist, Dr. Matthew Cock said, “We are now able to confirm that the fall armyworm is spreading very rapidly outside the Americas, and it can be expected to spread to the limits of suitable African habitat within just a few years.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization plans emergency talks on the issue, the BBC reports.
The presence of the pest has been confirmed in Zimbabwe, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia. Zambia has moved to use army planes to spray pesticides.
The armyworm is known for marching through crops leaving no plant on its way. It is native to North and South America and was encountered in Africa in 2016. It is believed the caterpillar or its eggs may have reached Africa via food imports. Once hatched, adult moths can contaminate a large area rapidly.
The African diet is very much dependent on maize as a source of staples.