South Africa warns armyworms could be disastrous to cornStaff Writer | February 2, 2017
South African corn farms are suffering extensive damage from what appears to be an alien caterpillar that destroyed fields in other countries in the region, according to the government.
Farming in Africa South African corn farms
The pest that appears to be the fall armyworm has been reported in the northern Limpopo and North West provinces, the department said. North West and the central Free State province account for the bulk of output in Africa’s biggest corn producer.
“If this pest is indeed the fall armyworm, it could be disastrous, particularly to maize production,” the department said, using another term for corn.
Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe already suffered extensive damage to tens of thousands of hectares of mainly corn fields.
The arrival of the alien species threatens to hurt output as southern Africa is recovering from its worst drought in more than 35 years, even as rainfall improves.
South Africa could increase its corn crop to at least 11.9 million metric tonnes this year from 7.5 million tons, the Agricultural Business Chamber said last month.
White corn for delivery in March, the most active contract, rose by 3.6%, the most since October, to 2,869 rand ($212) per tonne on Wednesday. ■