top of page

Armyworms Invading Corn in Southern Africa

After southern Africa’s worst drought in more than 35 years ravaged crops and sent food prices soaring, farmers are battling a new crisis: alien armyworms.

Godwin Mukenani Mwiya first noticed caterpillars chewing through his corn field south of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, near the end of December. Two weeks later, he’d lost half his crop to the pest that’s already invaded more than 10 percent of farms in the country and spread to Zimbabwe and Malawi.

The fall armyworm that’s native to the Americas has arrived in southern Africa for the first time, wiping out tens of thousands of acres of corn fields. For a region trying to recover from drought, the pest brings renewed fears of food shortages and inflation. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization says the effects could be devastating for the area if its spread isn’t controlled.

“It’s really a national disaster because as you can see, half of my crop is gone,” Mwiya, a 56-year-old retired teacher who’s been farming for a decade, said as he scanned his ravaged field. “This has hit me below the belt.”

FAO/Lesotho/Lechoko Noko

bottom of page