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January 17, 2019

Resistance to the usual pesticides makes armyworm more dangerous

Armyworms invading a  farms in Kwale County destroying crops in the area./FILE
Armyworms invading a farms in Kwale County destroying crops in the area./FILE

Agriculture is grappling with many pests already, and as USAid's Regina Eddy says, the armyworm is unique in that it is resistant to many conventional pesticides. Eddy is the coordinator of Fall Armyworm Task Force at the USAid Bureau of Food Security.

She said the pest also has a voracious appetite that particularly targets maize, which is a vital staple crop in Kenya and for many families in Africa. Eddy said the pest can cause billions of dollars in damage and put hundreds of millions of people at risk of hunger.

“The fall armyworm has been identified in over 35 countries in the past year in sub-Saharan Africa. This poses a great problem to agriculture in Africa, threatening food security and livelihoods,” she said on Wednesday during a video press conference with African journalists.

“We continue to call upon our partners to mobilise their solutions, to work with us to control the armyworm and support the capacity of African governments to manage the pest.”

Eddy said the US has decades of experience controlling the pest, but the problem is transferring that knowledge to African counterparts and opening the path for dozens of technologies to be validated and then scaled.

“The evidence must guide the selection of these technologies, and the choice ultimately belongs to the end user, that is, African governments and their farmers,” she said.

“We are working with partners and stakeholders that include the private sector, research institutions, universities, farmers, civil society organisations, and international multilaterals, such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation. It’s essential that we work rapidly and that we’re smart and we align our resources and together support Africans in responding quickly to manage this outbreak.”

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