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South Africa's battle with armyworms

South Africa

South African farmers are battling an alien armyworm invasion that has already caused devastation on their crops.

The maize-destroying caterpillars have destroyed eight per cent of this farm.

According to experts chemicals can be used to deal with the pest in its early stages, but after that it becomes much harder, and some populations of the fall armyworm have developed resistance.

“The industry is going to struggle because these worms are eating everything that they touch. So, there’s not going to be enough maize for all the people to eat, like we usually do each year. I think we’re going to have a problem in finding seed again next year,” said farmer Jacques Prinsloo.

The outbreak threatens food security in southern Africa, which is recovering from the crippling El Nino-triggered drought.

“It’s got a huge impact, it’s around about 800,000 bucks (rand), to a million bucks (rand) I’m losing. So, it’s difficult, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Prinsloo added.

The fall armyworm that is native to the Americas was first reported in West Africa last year and has spread rapidly through the continent.

The outbreak has already caused damage to staple crops in Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana, with reports also suggesting Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia are affected.


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