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CIMMYT and GOAL team up to help farmers in Zimbabwe fight fall armyworm

Identifying best practices to fight the invasive pest.


DUN LAOGHAIRE, Ireland and TEXCOCO, Mexico — Irish humanitarian aid agency GOAL has joined CIMMYT (the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) in the fight against fall armyworm, a devastating insect pest that experts say threatens the food security of millions of people in Africa.

The fall armyworm has caused significant damage to maize crops in sub-Saharan Africa since its arrival to the region in 2016.

A study on the impact of the fall armyworm in eastern Zimbabwe reveals that nearly 12 percent of crops are lost annually due to the infestation. And the study states that if the problem spreads throughout the entire country tonnes of grain to the value of $32 million could be lost.

GOAL Zimbabwe has now teamed up with CIMMYT to identify conditions that promote fall armyworm infestation in order to educate farmers on best practices to fight the problem.

Regular weeding, conservation agriculture, use of manure and compost, and ending pumpkin intercropping have been found to help prevent infestation.

Mainassara Zaman-Allah, co-author of the study and abiotic stress phenotyping specialist at CIMMYT said, “Given the limited coverage of the study in terms of area and season, it would be interesting to replicate it all over the country through the involvement of governmental agricultural departments, so that we get the full picture around the fall armyworm problem at a larger scale.”

Gift Mashango from GOAL Zimbabwe, said, “The fall armyworm has further worsened the food security situation of smallholder farmers who are already coping with an ailing economy and climate change. Besides the adverse effects posed to the environment by chemical methods of combating the pest, the smallholder farmer cannot afford to meet the associated costs, hence the need to come up with innovative cost-effective farming systems like climate smart agriculture.”


CIMMYT – the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center – is the global leader in publicly-funded maize and wheat research and related farming systems. Headquartered near Mexico City, CIMMYT works with hundreds of partners throughout the developing world to sustainably increase the productivity of maize and wheat cropping systems, thus improving global food security and reducing poverty.

CIMMYT is a member of the CGIAR System and leads the CGIAR Research Programs on Maize and Wheat, and the Excellence in Breeding Platform. The Center receives support from national governments, foundations, development banks and other public and private agencies.

For more information about CIMMYT, please visit https://www.cimmyt.org/.

About GOAL

GOAL is an international humanitarian aid agency working in 13 countries to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable in our world, and those affected by humanitarian crises, have access to the fundamental rights to life. With its head office in Ireland, GOAL envisions a world where poverty and hunger no longer exist; where communities are prepared for seasonal shocks; where structural and cultural barriers to growth are removed and where every man, woman and child has equal rights and access to resources and opportunities.

To learn more about GOAL, please visit https://www.goalglobal.org/.

Media contacts

CIMMYT: Genevieve Renard, Head of Communications. G.Renard@cgiar.org

GOAL: Miriam Donohoe, Senior Communications Manager. mdonohoe@goal.ie