Fall armyworm: 'Pest control plan must be implemented'

The Agriculture Department this week confirmed the pest has been identified in maize crops in Limpopo & parts of northern Gauteng.

FILE: An armyworm caterpillar eating kernels of maize. Picture: Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International.

PRETORIA - A report by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) says the fall armyworm will never be eradicated in South Africa, adding that a pest control plan must be implemented to limit outbreaks and damage to crops.

The Agriculture Department this week confirmed the pest has been identified in maize crops in Limpopo and parts of northern Gauteng.

The ARC states in its report that local experts have been communicating with scientists in Benin and Nigeria on methods to tackle the fall armyworm.

Experts are also being consulted in the United States and South America.

However, the report makes it clear that the pest is here to stay.

Grain South Africa’s Jannie de Villiers is hopeful that the damage will be limited as approximately 85% of South Africa’s maize crop is genetically modified.

“It’s totally different from what Zimbabwe and Zambia has experienced. They don’t have GMO maize. There may be resistance and crops may not be affected at all.”

He says pesticides have also been identified to use on the worm.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)