Fall armyworm swarms Afar and Ethio- Somali ‘s maize farms

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The Fall armyworm is still challenging maize farmers and investors in Oromia, Amahara, Tigray, Gambella, Beninshangul and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ states. The colony has now spread over 1,3000 hectares of land in Afar and Ethio- Somali regions.
According to the report from Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, maize cultivated in 145 hectares of land in Somali and 1,224 hectares of land in Afar has been affected by the Fall armyworm.
The ministry added that it will reveal the amount of maize that has been destroyed by the armyworm takeover in April 2018, after the harvesting period is completed.
The fall armyworm is a migratory insect pest known to cause destruction of maize crops under warm and humid conditions. It first arrived in Africa in 2016 and was intercepted on a few hectares of irrigated maize fields in southern Ethiopia in February 2017.
Aided by wind, the fall armyworm of a single generation can rapidly spread over 500 kilometers of space.
Currently 342, 708 hectares of maize in Oromia, 133, 705 hectares in Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ states, 36, 677 hectares in Binishangul Gumuz,122,520 hectares in Amhara and, 5230 hectares in Tigray regions has been affected by the armyworm.
Farmers are handpicking and using pesticide to eradicate the worm but these two systems have not brought any good results in many areas. Tewbane Chane, Communication Officer at Ministry of Agriculture told Capital that the government is undertaking a thorough study to solve this problem.
“Our ministry workers, agricultural institution centers and experts from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are conducting researches to bring good solutions to eradicate the worm. For now, we are advising the farmers to use hand picking methods to reduce the worm’s impact.’’
Maize became increasingly important for realizing food security in Ethiopia following the major drought and famine that occurred in 1984. Ethiopia has doubled its maize production in less than two decades. The yield, currently estimated is greater than 3 metric tons per hectare, making it the second highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, after South Africa. Yield gains for Ethiopia grew at an annual rate of 68 kg per hectare between 1990 and 2013, only second to South Africa and greater than Mexico, China, or India.
Approximately 88 percent of maize produced in Ethiopia is consumed as food, both as green and dry grain. Maize for industrial use has also showed a growing demand.
In recent years, the country’s maize fields have been repeatedly hit by different disasters including diseases and drought, creating a negative impact on productivity.