Farmers are reacting to an infestation of an insidious pest – the fall army worm – by indiscriminately spraying their crops with whichever combination of chemical fertilizers are available. The pest is ravaging staple food crops like maize, rice, wheat and millet in eastern and southern Africa and threatening food security of millions of people.
The outbreak was first reported in 2016 in a few countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Togo and parts of Uganda, and is believed to have come from South America in agriculture products. The pests were quickly found to be resistant to locally used pesticides and have destroyed thousands of hectares of crops in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Ethiopia, part of Nigeria and several other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers have turned to whatever chemicals they can find to fight the worm.