Twenty-five African countries have been affected by fall armyworm that has damaged 1.5 million hectares so far and the infestation is still spreading, an African Union (AU) official said Saturday.

The fall army worm, which originates from the Americas and started its infestation in Nigeria, has spread to countries as diverse as Zambia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Gambia, said Josefa Sacko, African Union’s Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, during a press conference organized at the sidelines of the ongoing 29th AU Summit held from June 27 to July 4.

Sacko said the infestation, which mainly occurs in maize crop, a popular staple crop in eastern and southern African countries, has so far not found an effective sustainable solution to the threat.

The AU hopes to establish soon a continental framework to deal with the infestation, as it tries to deal with the threat that also has an ability to affect 80 other crop varieties.

Ethiopia in particular has been severely affected by the pest spreading to six major maize producing regions partially affecting 145,000 hectares of land.

A joint effort by Ethiopian and other East African nations to combat the pest so far helped to save over 81,000 hectares of land that was covered in maize production, said Daniel Dentamo, Public Relations head at Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

He further said 100,000 plus liters of pesticides have been distributed to over 209,000 farmers across the affected areas.

The southern African nation of Zambia meanwhile has deployed 3 million dollars while Ghana has committed 4 million dollars to fight armyworm infestation. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/