‘Growing alarm’ over Fall Armyworm advance, with cash crops ‘under attack’ across Asia

FAO/Lesotho/Lechoko Noko Armyworm eating on maize cob in Lesotho. (file)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The Fall Armyworm pest is continuing to sweep across the globe, having moved eastwards from their native Americas, onto Africa, before arriving in Asia only last summer, where they now threaten to cost farmers from India to Thailand, billions of dollars in lost production.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has convened a three-day meeting of international experts in Bangkok and officials from affected countries, who on Wednesday began discussing what to do about stopping the onward march of the crop-guzzling insects, and limiting the devastation they cause.

“We are here today – together – because we share a growing sense of alarm – but also to learn from each other, particularly from those countries who’ve already been responding to their own infestations, said Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.

“We need to work together because this is a pest that has no respect for international boundaries, threatens our food security, our economies, domestic and international trade, and of course the smallholder farmer who wakes up one morning to a cash crop under attack.”

Fall Armyworm is ‘here to stay’

Fall armyworm have been moving steadily east since 2016 and caused up to $3 billion-worth of damage to crops across Africa, according to reports. They lay eggs which develop fast into grubs, which can devastate crops such as maize, rice and sugarcane, overnight.

India began to suffer the effects of the flying invaders in July, and the insects have now reached Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and China’s Yunnan province, said FAO.

In the case of Sri Lanka, there were reports that up to 40,000 hectares had been infested, damaging some 20 percent of its crops. China is the biggest maize producer in Asia, and second largest producer globally.

“When Fall Armyworm made landfall in India, its arrival did not come as a complete surprise, we were not caught unaware. And that’s a good start – indeed it was a good head start,” Mr. Kadiresan said.

The Plant Protection Commission for Asia and the Pacific began raising awareness about the threat early last year, sharing key information on the pest, its spread towards Asia, and how to manage it sustainably in case of infestation.

Slowing the spread

Once an infestation is confirmed, governments are initiating efforts to continue to raise awareness and monitor the presence and spread of FAW on maize and other crops.

FAO has been working with the relevant authorities to initiate awareness programmes that inform and train farmers on integrated pest management techniques. These include identifying natural enemies of the Fall Armyworm, enhancing natural biological controls and mechanical controls, such as crushing egg masses and employing the use of biopesticides.

The use of chemical pesticides needs to be very carefully considered, given that FAW larvae hide largely in the ring of leaves (whorl), and that chemical pesticides can have negative effects on environment and public health. This is taken into consideration at policy and field level. With these measures put in place, the negative effects of infestations can be sustainably managed and can help to maintain populations low enough to limit economic and livelihood damage.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Governments should renew efforts to reform support to agriculture

UN gender agency hails record-breaking number of women in new US Congress as ‘historic victory’

UN chief welcomes Taliban’s temporary truce announcement, encourages all parties to embrace ‘Afghan-owned peace’

World Summit Awards 2016: Sustainable impact through digital innovation

GSMA Mobile 360 – Latin America at Mexico City: Intelligently Connecting to a Better Future, in association with The European Sting

A European young student shares his thoughts on Quality Education

Algorithms are being used to convict criminals and decide jail time. We need to make sure they are fair

How regenerative agroforestry could solve the climate crisis

UN chief laments ending of Cold War-era disarmament treaty

Russia and the West use the same tactics to dismember Ukraine

Brexit: MEPs concerned about citizens’ rights

EU-Japan relations: Foreign Affairs MEPs back Strategic Partnership Agreement

How can you or your organization support the Hour of Pride initiative?

From Russia with love: Brussels and Moscow close to an agreement on Ukraine’s gas supplies

It’s time to build a responsible media supply chain

Amazon on fire: the interference in global health

Statement by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on the outcome of COP 25

COVID-19 lockdown hits working mothers harder than fathers

Can privatisation be the panacea for the lack of growth in Europe?

Beyond 2020: How the world might recover and rebuild, according to experts

“The Arctic climate matters: to what degree?”, a Sting Exclusive co-authored by UN Environment’s Jan Dusik and Slava Fetisov

5G security: Member States report on progress on implementing the EU toolbox and strengthening safety measures

IMF: The global economy keeps growing except Eurozone

‘No steps taken’ so far to end Israel’s illegal settlement activity on Palestinian land – UN envoy

These are the countries best prepared for the fight against cancer

Guinea-Bissau needs ‘genuinely free and fair elections’ to break cycle of instability

A Sting Exclusive: “Delivering on the Environmental Dimension of the new Sustainable Development Agenda”, Ulf Björnholm underscores from UNEP Brussels

COVID-19: A new drug is tested, and other top science stories of the week

OECD tells Eurozone to prepare its banks for a tsunami coming from developing countries

Tax evasion and fraud threaten the European project

To all far-right partisans who exploit Charlie Hebdo atrocity: a peaceful reply given by a peaceful student

UN General Assembly President upholds value of multilateralism in speech closing annual debate

Australia wildfires: communities must stay vigilant, urges UN weather agency

The power of partnership: joining forces to fight financial crime

Climate change and health: an everyday solution

Russia: MEPs deplore military build-up, attack in Czechia and jailing of Navalny

The financial sector cripples Eurozone growth prospects

Trump’s trade wars: Aiming at long term gains for America

As children freeze to death in Syria, aid officials call for major cross-border delivery boost

3 steps to making multistakeholder partnerships a powerful force

Returning to free movement across borders is of utmost importance

Commission launches debate on responding to the impact of an ageing population

China joins list of nations banning the sale of old-style fossil-fuelled vehicles

“As German Chancellor I want to be able to cope with the merger of the real and digital economy”, Angela Merkel from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Telecommunications and Internet: A Jungle with no principles?

Are we at risk of a financial crisis? Our new report takes a look

UN political chief calls for dialogue to ease tensions in Venezuela; Security Council divided over path to end crisis

COP21 Breaking News_09 December: The Draft Agreement Updated

An expert explains: How to turn industrial carbon emissions into building materials

Q&A on extraordinary remote participation procedure

COP22 addresses a strong global pledge to effectively implement the Paris Agreement

The ECB will do whatever it takes to set the Eurozone economy again in motion

ECB embarks on the risky trip to Eurozone banking universe

The US may be “open” to reviving TTIP, while the EU designs the future of trade with China

Businesses succeed internationally

Commission celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Jean Monnet Activities promoting European studies worldwide

Women vital for ‘new paradigm’ in Africa’s Sahel region, Security Council hears

Amazon fires: Health Effects, Near and Far

Journey of my life

Eurozone: Economic sentiment-business climate to collapse without support from exports

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s