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Lack of funds hinders armyworm containment

Author : | Published: Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Armyworm larva

Lack of funding is slowing down efforts to tackle the outbreak of the fall armyworm in the country, the Minister of Agriculture, Onyoti Adigo, has said.

Fall armyworm is a new pest in Africa, preferring maize plants, but feeds on sorghum, millet, vegetables, and other crops as well.

Following its initial detection in Magwi County in Imatong State, it has spread to nearly all areas of the country including Yei, Juba, former Northern Bahr el Ghazal states and parts of Jonglei at an alarming rate.

Mr Adigo said lack of money has impeded plans to assess the “magnitude of the armyworm” attack in the states.

“The [ministry] lacks mobility for carrying out general survey of the worm, even in Juba County,” he told Eye Radio Tuesday.

In June, the Council of Ministers approved 60 million pounds to fight the armyworm but Mr. Adigo said the Ministry of Finance has not yet provided the money. It’s unclear why.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Pierre Vauthier, says the agency, which is working to improve people’s livelihoods, is making assessments in the affected areas.

“We are still confirming which type of caterpillar it is,” Vauthier said.

“But there is suspicion in Western Equatoria, Central Equatoria, Western Bahr El Ghazal and also in parts of Jonglei,” he added.

Fall armyworm causes serious leaf feeding damage as well as direct injury to the ear, according to researchers.

While fall armyworms can damage plants in nearly all stages of development, it will concentrate on later plantings that have not yet started.

The Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that the outbreak of the fall armyworm is further threatening the food crisis in the country.

South Sudan is facing unprecedented levels of food insecurity, as nearly 4.9 million people – about 40 percent of the country’s population – remain in urgent need of food assistance, according to the UN agency.

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