Fall Armyworm is native to the Americas. However, since 2016 it has been aggressively moving ever eastwards, sweeping across Africa, and making landfall for the first time in Asia last summer. Fall Armyworm (FAW) was first detected in India in July 2018 and by January 2019, it had spread to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and China’s Yunnan Province. In the case of Sri Lanka, there were reports that up to 40,000 hectares had been infested, damaging some 20 percent of its crops. While economic losses there and in the other Asian countries have not yet been tallied, estimates of economic damage from FAW in Africa ranged from US$ 1-3 billion. In response to the sudden onset of FAW in Asia, FAO is convening a meeting of officials from the affected countries, as well as experts who’ve been tackling the fallout of FAW in Africa and Latin America – and who have been learning ways to limit the damage. (FAO, 20 Mar 2019)
In April, planting of 2019 maize crop was completed in the south of China with some concerns remain for the final maize output due to Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestations spreading northwards from the Yunnan Province, where the pest was first detected in January 2019. As of 29 May, FAW had already spread through 15 southern provinces. (FAO, 12 Jun 2019)
As of 4 July, Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestations reportedly affected crops in localized areas in 19 out of the 34 provincial-level administrative divisions, mostly in southern parts of the country. Official estimates indicate that less than 1 percent of the total area planted with maize had been affected. However, this number is expected to increase if the spread is not contained. Reports from the country indicate that there is an increasing risk that FAW could spread to northern parts of the country. (FAO, 4 Jul 2019)
The Fall Armyworm was first detected In Indonesia in West Sumatra in March 2019, and within 4 months the pest has moved to 12 provinces in Indonesia in Sumatra, Java and some parts of Kalimantan. The Ministry of Agriculture has been gathering information on the losses from crops infested and damaged by the pest. The local Government has been raising the awareness of farmers in the affected areas, and monitoring the fields that have been attacked. (FAO, 17 Jul 2019)
On 14 June, the local government of Mabinay in Negros Oriental has been placed under a state of calamity after armyworms attacked 28 out of 32 barangays. The armyworms have attacked a variety of crops, as well as grasslands, affecting the majority of the populace whose livelihood is mostly farming. Of the 28 barangays affected, 18 have placed their respective barangays under a state of calamity to be able to use their calamity fund to buy chemicals, sprayers, drums, and seeds. (Govt. of Philippines, 15 Jun 2019)
The Fall Armyworm (FAW) or Spodoptera frugiperda has been reported in all major maize growing areas in Sri Lanka and is also affecting sugarcane cultivation. There is a growing concern that it may affect other crops, including rice. Native to the Americas, FAW was first detected in Central and Western Africa in early 2016 and quickly spread across virtually all of Sub-Saharan Africa. In July 2018, it was confirmed in India in Karnataka state and since then it has been found in seven other States including in Tamil Nadu. (FAO, 24 Jan 2019)
As of 31 March, Fall Armyworm damage has been particularly reported in Eastern, Uva and North Central provinces. The districts mostly affected are Anuradhapura, Ampara, Badulla and Moneragala. As of mid February 2019, 41,880 ha of maize was affected (Gov.t of Sri Lanka & WFP, 31 Mar 2019).
The harvesting of the 2019 main maize crop in these districts was inflicted by the Fall Armyworm infestation. As of 15 April, official reports indicate that about 50 percent of the area cultivated with maize was affected and crop losses were estimated at 10 percent of the initially expected output. (FAO, 27 May 2019)