Crop-killing armyworm caterpillar reaches Rwanda, Kenya

April 19, 2017
A 'huge threat to food security', fall armyworm has made its way to Rwanda

Rwanda's government announced on Wednesday it had discovered fall armyworm on its crops, making it the third east African country afflicted by the plant-eating pest also recently spotted in Kenya.

Uganda confirmed last month that fall armyworm had entered its borders after devastating in several southern African nations in what the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said was a "huge threat to ."

Telesphore Ndabamenye, head of crop production at the Rwanda Agriculture Board, told AFP the harmless-looking brown caterpillar had afflicted most of Rwanda's 30 districts but said the outbreak was "not bad."

"It is under control, there is big effort devoted to control it," Ndabamenye said.

Meanwhile, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reported Monday the disease had struck maize crops in 11 of the country's 47 counties, in a blow to farmers whose profits have already been hit by a devastating drought.

Though native to the Americas, the brown caterpillar first appeared in Nigeria and Togo last year, with some experts blaming for its spread.

Agriculture is the backbone of many east African countries including Rwanda, where about 80 percent of the population depends on farming.

Armyworm eats sources like maize, wheat, millet and rice along with crops like cotton, potato, soybeans and tobacco.

It has already taken a toll on Uganda where the government said this week the pest had spread to nearly half of the country's districts and that losses from crop destruction could top $193 million (180 million euros).

While pesticides are effective, fall armyworm in the Americas has developed resistance to the chemicals.

In a statement, Rwanda Defence Force called the bug "a real threat to national food security," and announced it had airlifted about 4,500 litres of pesticides used to counter it around the country.

Explore further: Crop-destroying armyworm caterpillars spread to Uganda

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Japan to make crater on asteroid to get underground samples

March 18, 2019

Japan's space agency said Monday that its Hayabusa2 spacecraft will follow up last month's touchdown on a distant asteroid with another risky mission—dropping an explosive on the asteroid to make a crater and then collect ...

Bright X-ray galactic nuclei

March 18, 2019

All massive galaxies are believed to host supermassive black holes (SMBH) at their centers that grow by accreting mass from their environment. The current picture also imagines that the black holes grow in size as their host ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.