International experts to meet in Harare for emergency UN meeting over armyworm outbreak
Experts from 13 countries are expected to spend three days in Harare at an Emergency UN summit to find a way to combat the fall army worm which is spreading rapidly in African countries. The army worm caterpillar feeds on rice, maize, millet and rice and has already caused damage to staple crops in Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia.
This particular variety is native to the American continents and is now causing damage in Africa partly because farmers do not know how to deal with it. Farmers are also unsure of how the pest managed to reach Africa from the American continents. In Zimbabwe the pest has been reported in all 10 provinces.
David Phiri, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s coordinator for southern Africa said:
…Nobody seems to know how it reached Africa
You use different methods. One of them is pesticides, another is to use biological control. Another is to use natural control, like digging trenches around the farm (or) natural predators, like birds, to eat those worms
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If it is a small level of the worms, it’s easy to control, using pesticides. Otherwise, it’s very difficult to control it, so they will have to use different methods — including sometimes burning the crops.
The summit is starting on Tuesday (today).