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West Africa: Armyworm Infestation - Mar 2017

DR Congo
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Disaster types
Insect Infestation

In DR Congo, since mid-December 2016, fall armyworms have destroyed thousands of hectares of maize and rice crops in the southeastern provinces Haut-Katanga, Haut-Lomami, Lualaba, Tanganyika and Sud Kivu (OCHA 15/02/2017). 63,000 hectares have been destroyed, which represents over 80% of maize production in the territories along the Zambian border (OCHA 15/02/2017; Straitstimes 26/02/2017). Taking into account the speed at which the worms spread, it is highly likely that other neighbouring provinces, especially Nord-Kivu, Ituri, Maniema and Kasai, are already affected. The extent of the spread would result in a significant impact on the local corn production (FEWSNET 28/02/2017).(ACAPS, 23 Mar 2017)
As of August 2017, the spread of fall armyworms has destroyed crops in 50 out of the country’s 145 territories. Between 50 to 80 percent of people in some of the areas affected by hunger struggle to make ends meet and to have something to eat. (WFP, FAO, 14 Aug 2017)
The number of acutely food insecure people from June to December 2017 has risen by almost 2 million since the same period in 2016. Conflict is causing widespread insecurity and population displacements in North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, Tanganyika, Haut-Katanga and Kasai provinces. As of October 2017, 3.9 million people were internally displaced, more than 1.3 million in Kasai. Many people are eating little more than a meal a day – typically just maize or cassava root and leaves. Crops have been destroyed, production areas and market routes cut off, huge numbers of farmers displaced and planting areas severely reduced. Crop production has been affected by pest attacks such as the Fall Armyworm, which has a ected more than 80 territories. The depreciation of the local currency has resulted in more expensive and reduced imports. This, combined with limited domestic food supplies, has pushed up cereal prices. (FAO, 16 Jan 2018)
Conflict related reduction in area planted as well as destruction from the Fall Army Worm (FAW) infestation are expected to contribute towards below average 2017 crop. Both factors will likely remain relevant through the early part of 2018 and consequently result in weak expectations for 2018 harvests. (FEWS, 31 Jan 2018)

In Ghana, armyworms have ravaged around 1.4 million hectares of maize and cowpea plantations in six regions (Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Western, Eastern and the Northern). In Ashanti, some 6,400 hectares of cocoa farms have also been affected. Although the infestations occur every year, experts say that this year’s outbreak is unprecedented and have urged quick action to curb further destruction as food security and livelihoods of several households is threatened. Officials from the National Disaster Management Organisation have begun distributing pesticides and a national taskforce has been set up to oversee the control of the infestation. (OCHA, 22 May 2017)

In Cameroon, as of late August, the Ministry of Agriculture informed that the fall armyworm pest had infested 6 of the central African state’s 10 regions. Armyworms have been a serious threat to food security in the country because cereals like maize, sorghum, rice and legume plants like cow-pea, peanuts and beans are increasingly being attacked every day. (VOA, 29 Aug 2017)

In Nigeria, on 5 September, FAO and the Government signed a Technical Cooperation Agreement to curtail Fall Armyworm infestation, as Minister of Agriculture appealed for enhanced FAO support to manage crop diseases in Nigeria. The objective of the TCP includes the establishment of capacities to detect, monitor and control the FAW infestation in maize production. The project is expected to improve national capacities for Fall Armyworm surveillance and monitoring in affected areas, the establishment of Public Awareness on FAW, strengthen national capacities for FAW management, restore productive capacity and enhance livelihood in the worst affected households. (FAO, 5 Sep 2017)

FAO has conducted a sub-regional FAW ToT in Abuja, Nigeria on 5 - 10 September 2017 to increase the skills and knowledge of national plant protection and extension experts and FFS practitioners (Master trainers and facilitators) on FAW in Western Africa. The trained will in turn train other staff and farmers on management of the pest in their respective countries. Topics covered were FAW identification and diagnosis, scouting, early warning systems, contingency planning, impact assessments and integrated management options for the pest. (FAO, 24 Oct 2017)

Despite the damage caused by the floods and the impact of Fall Armyworm infestations in localized areas, the aggregate cereal harvest in West Africa is expected to set another record, slightly above the 2016 output and about 9 percent above the average of the previous five years. (FAO, 1 Dec 2017)

As of 31 October 2017, the fall armyworm situation (Spodoptera frugiperda) is still worrying. Except for Mauritania, Liberia and Sierra Leone, it has been detected in all West Africa and Sahel countries. (FAO, 29 Dec 2017)

In Cabo Verde, a major and widespread attack of Fall Armyworms was reported at the national level, but had a particularly severe impact in on Santiago, Fogo and Santo Antão regions. The Fall Armyworm attacks have affected maize crops in Santiago and Fogo, the two islands that together account for about 85 percent of the maize production. (FAO, 18 Jan 2018)

As of 31 January 2018, FAW is damaging vegetable gardens in Liberia. Mali has recently requested emergency support to contain FAW expansion in the country. (FAO, 31 Jan 2018)