After confirmation by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) that the recent pest infestation is in-fact the Fall Armyworm, concerns have been raised around what the impact could be on the South African economy.
Paul Makube, Senior Agricultural Economist at FNB Business believes we are in a good position to deal with the Fall Armyworm due to early detection. He answers questions that have been asked about this recent invader in the sector.
- In which provinces is the armyworm present? At the moment it is in Limpopo and the North West provinces.
- What crops have been affected? Presently it is in maize, potentially in tomatoes and potatoes. The pest infestation may not be limited to these crops only.
- Does it have an impact on what we export, could South Africa face import restrictions? The pest is airborne, it does not need to be carried in harvested products to enter the country and therefore restrictions of exports will be ineffective. It is a pest that has travelled from the Americas through North Africa and has found its way in Southern Africa.
- What is being done to contain the spread of the fall armyworm? DAFF has implemented the South African Emergency Plant Pest Response Plan and is fast tracking certification of pesticides, monitoring and dissemination of technical information on control options.
- How will this affect maize reserves? The outbreak, if not contained, has potential to reduce production. However, almost 80% of the country’s maize is Bt maize and susceptibility is minimal. The large maize
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