Fall Armyworm Will Threaten Food Security and Livelihoods of Farmers in Asia and China After Destroying Crops in Africa
Fall armyworm is damaging crops (Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons)

Farmers go to all lengths to protect their crop produce from insects and pesticides. But not all of them are aware of the incoming damage. A new harmful pest has been detected in India and it can devour more than 80 plants including several crops. Called the Fall Armyworm, it can damage the livelihoods of small-scale farmers in not only our country but the entire subcontinent as per a warning of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The pest was noticed in Karnataka's Shivamogga district in the month of May.

The Fall Armyworm has been recorded for creating a havoc in Africa and it was first detected in India recently. This also happens to be the first detection in Asia and the FAO said it is very likely that it will spread across to the southeast Asia and south China. Both the areas are at risk of damage from the pest.

This pest can eat maize along with 80 other crops, including rice, vegetables, groundnuts, sugarcane and cotton. "Fall Armyworm could have a devastating impact on Asia's maize and rice producers - mostly small-scale farmers who depend on their crops for food and to make a living. This is a threat that we cannot ignore," according to Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.

Fall Armyworm's detection in Africa was in the year 2016. By 2018 most of the African states were affected by millions of hectares of maize and sorghum. The UN agency is also giving expertise to farmers and regional government to deal with the pest. The pest can apparently fly 100 kilometers at night and can eat down a year-round of crops, given the climate is favourable. The measures suggested in Africa could be implemented in Asia. Hans Dreyer, Director of FAO's Plant Production and Protection Division, said, "This includes recommendations on pesticide management, monitoring and early warning, and a practical guide for farmers and government extension workers on how to best manage the pest." Experts came together in Africa to study the pest and provide knowledge on developing the tools to curb it.