International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) researchers said they are currently screening elite maize germplasm to help identify possible sources of resistance. The presence of the fall armyworm has added another threat to fighting maize diseases in continent since the citing of Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) disease in 2011 hence the need for the meeting to come up with the possible solutions.
The fall armyworm, a pest that was introduced to Africa from the Americas, was first reported in Nigeria last year and has since spread to southern and eastern African countries, causing severe damage in crop losses in the continent. Its larvae feed on leaves and can destroy up to 70 percent of the crop they invade. The damage appears as ragged-edged holes on leaves.
Zambia has confirmed reports that almost 90,000 hectares of their maize have been affected. It has also affected 17,000 hectares in Malawi, 130,000 hectares in Zimbabwe and 50,000 hectares in Namibia respectively.