The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, is assisting the government and people of Malawi to combat the invasive crop pest called fall armyworm.
USAID’s assistance has included media campaigns to educate farmers on pest identification and control, in-person trainings with farmers, technical messages for use by extension workers, distribution of 1,400 pheromone traps as part of a national monitoring and early warning system, and funding to test 11 pesticides for efficacy in controlling fall armyworm.
USAID also facilitated a recent visit to Malawi by South African experts to assess the situation and provide training on pest identification, estimation of infestation rates, and control measures to public and private sector extension workers.
To combat the spread of the fall armyworm across the African continent, international experts recently gathered to produce a new comprehensive integrated pest management guide to help scientists, extension agents, and farmers tackle the voracious fall armyworm. It is based on scientific evidence and contains expert advice for plant protection organizations, extension agencies, research institutions, and governments working with smallholder farmers to better understand fall armyworm and the agricultural challenge it will pose to Africa for years to come.
USAID also recently announced the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize to source digital solutions that can help identify and provide actionable information on how to treat fall armyworm. Innovators can learn more and apply at fallarmywormprize.org.
The fall armyworm can feed on 80 different crop species including maize, a staple food produced by over 300 million African smallholder farms. Since its 2016 discovery, the crop pest has since been reported in over 40 Sub-Saharan African countries, posing a significant threat to food security, income, and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Without proper control measures implemented, the pest could cause extensive yield losses to maize crops, estimated between $3.6 and $6.2 billion per year across 12 major African maize producing countries, according to an evidence note published by the Center for Agriculture and Bio-sciences International in September 2017.
The United States is proud to work with its partners to help Malawi and other countries in Africa combat a serious threat to food production and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of farmers and rural communities.