The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns the current armyworm outbreak could put Southern Africa’s food security at risk.
The warning came at the end of a three-day regional meeting in Zimbabwean capital Harare, to discuss the outbreak.
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the FAO says more than half of the 15 states which make up the regional body have already been affected by the outbreak.
The organisation says Zimbabwe will be hardest hit, with up to 130 000 hectares of maize affected. In Namibia, 50 000 hectares of maize and millet were damaged. In Zambia 124 000 hectares of maize were destroyed by army worm.
The fall armyworm is a destructive caterpillar indigenous to the Americas. The ‘fall’ refers to the season during which it tends to migrate to the Americas.
The pest targets maize, sorghum, soya beans, groundnuts and potatoes and was last year spotted in western Nigeria – the first time in Africa. It has already left a trail of destruction in southern Africa.
Delegates at the regional summit resolved to roll out awareness campaigns targeting farmers.
Meanwhile, the Zambia Academy of Science says past outbreaks of other agricultural pests such as stalk borer, red locust and African armyworm should have better equipped Zambia to swiftly control the outbreak of armyworm.