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African and global experts release guide to manage fall armyworm, a critical threat to crops in Africa

February 6, 2018

An evidence-based manual details technologies and management approaches to tackle this grave food security threat

Nairobi, Kenya (CIMMYT) – The fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda; FAW) was first confirmed as a new invasive pest in Africa in 2016. Native to the Americas, the pest has since appeared in over 30 African countries. It can feed on 80 different crop species but prefers maize, a staple food consumed by over 300 million African smallholder farm families, posing a significant threat to food security, income and livelihoods.

A new, comprehensive guide produced by international experts and based on the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) presents research-based information to help scientists, extension agents and farmers tackle the voracious FAW, which continues to spread rapidly across the African continent.

From tips on pest identification and scouting to technologies/management practices for effective control, “Fall Armyworm in Africa: A Guide for Integrated Pest Management,” jointly produced under the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative by  the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the CGIAR Research Program  on Maize (CRP MAIZE), targets experts in plant protection organizations, extension agencies, research institutions and governments working with smallholder farmers.

“The fall armyworm poses an enormous and wide-scale risk to livelihoods of several million African smallholders,” said B.M. Prasanna, director of CRP MAIZE and CIMMYT’s Global Maize Program. “The situation requires urgent deployment of an IPM strategy and a quick response from all stakeholders, including governments, research institutions, the private sector, civil society and other development players.”

“Dozens of institutions – Africa and global – participated in a dynamic learning process and evidence exchange to produce the recommendations that serve as the foundation for the guide.” Prasanna said. “This learning community will now support broad dissemination across Africa and reflect practices with proven impact in subsequent editions of this publication.”

In the absence of effective control measures, damage from the pest can cause annual maize yield losses worth between $3.6 and $6.2 billion across 12 major African maize producing countries, according to data published by the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) in September 2017.

The female fall armyworm moth can lay up to a 1,500 eggs in her lifetime, producing multiple generations without pause in the tropics. The moth can fly nearly 100 km (62 miles) a night, and some moth populations have even been reported to fly as far as 1,600 kilometers – nearly 1,000 miles — in 30 hours, according to experts. The pest has already migrated to islands in the Indian Ocean.

“The potential impact of fall armyworm as a major food security and economic risk for African nations cannot be overstated,” said Martin Kropff, director general at CIMMYT. “This comprehensive guide is the best information tool for effectively tackling the pest in a region at risk. This guide will improve smallholder farmers’ knowledge about how best to identify and fight it,” he added.


Fall Armyworm in Africa: A Guide for Integrated Pest Management, First Edition, January 2018.

Editors: B.M. Prasanna, Joseph E. Huesing, Regina Eddy, Virginia M. Peschke

Produced by USAID, CIMMYT, CGIAR Research Program on Maize, in collaboration with international and national research and development partners



Genevieve Renard

Head of Communications

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

Telephone: +52 1 595 114 9880

Email: g.renard@cgiar.org

Twitter: @genevrenard



Feed the Future is America’s initiative to combat global hunger and poverty. Led by USAID and drawing on the support and expertise of multiple U.S. government agencies and departments, Feed the Future brings partners together to help some of the world’s poorest countries harness the power of agriculture and entrepreneurship to jumpstart their economies and create new opportunities. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID invests in ideas that work to improve the lives of millions of men, women and children by: investing in agricultural productivity so countries can feed their people; combating maternal and child mortality and deadly diseases like HIV, malaria and tuberculosis; providing life-saving assistance in the wake of disaster; promoting democracy, human rights and good governance around the world; fostering private sector development and sustainable economic growth; helping communities adapt to a changing environment; and, elevating the role of women and girls throughout all our work. For more information, visit www.usaid.gov.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) 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, visit www.cimmyt.org.

The CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) is an international collaboration led by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) that seeks to mobilize global resources in maize R&D to achieve greater impact on maize-based farming systems in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. MAIZE strategy draws upon learning and experiences obtained through decades of extensive partnerships with national and international research and development partners, including both public and private institutions, and farming communities. For more information, visit www.maize.org