Crop-guzzling insect may cost Indian farmers billions, warns UN

March 21, 2019: United Nations’ Food Agency has warned that a crop-guzzling insect, which has moved from its native Americas to Asia, threatens to cost farmers from India to Thailand billions of dollars in lost production.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has convened a three-day meeting of international experts in Bangkok and officials from affected countries.

Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, said nations need to work together because this is a pest that has no respect for international boundaries, threatens our food security, our economies, domestic and international trade.

A UN release said, Fall armyworms (FAW) have been moving steadily east since 2016 and caused up to 3 billion US dollars worth of damage to crops across Africa.

The insect lays eggs which develop fast into grubs, which can devastate crops such as maize, rice and sugarcane, overnight.

India began to suffer the effects of the flying invaders in July, and the insects have now reached 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 per cent of its crops.

China is the biggest maize producer in Asia, and second largest producer globally.

The Plant Protection Commission for Asia and the Pacific began raising awareness about the threat early last year, sharing key information on the pest, its spread towards Asia, and how to manage it sustainably in case of infestation.

The FAO has been working with the relevant authorities to initiate awareness programmes that inform and train farmers on integrated pest management techniques. These include identifying natural enemies of the Fall Armyworm, enhancing natural biological controls and mechanical controls, such as crushing egg masses and employing the use of biopesticides.

The use of chemical pesticides needs to be very carefully considered, given that FAW larvae hide largely in the ring of leaves (whorl), and that chemical pesticides can have negative effects on the environment and public health.

Adam Rizvi

Adam Rizvi has a unique talent for publishing to marketing to managing projects, writers & assigning the task to correspondents. Edits an e-paper & cover the news. An activist, spend time with family & friends. His adorable daughters, Alizah & Anum are his lifeline. He spends his time by reading, swimming, hiking, cycling and watching with them their favorite TV shows, & fixing the Big Old House where he lives. Studied literature & management.Volunteer for non-profits. President of a Travel Agency. Publisher. Circulated the newspapers. Acted & Assisted in directing & production of the award-winning film & TV Serial. Scripted a little. Modelled. Emceed the live shows & judged competitions. A caring sibling and was an obedient son of his late doting parents whom he misses dearly.Adam uses his various positions & experiences in building the strong relationship with all. Appreciates his articles being read, commented, liked and shared. He can be reached at his personal email: mediaiss@gmail.com.

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