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South Africa - Digital solutions to help tackle fall armyworm

A new app developed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization will help South African growers track the fall armyworm outbreak and access resources on how to combat it.

The fall armyworm attacks maize, wheat, and sorghum at all crop stages, entering the critical organs of the plant and preventing it from growing. The worm’s impact is worsened by COVID-19 movement restrictions, as growers cannot reach their fields to monitor and respond to the situation. With restrictions lifting throughout the country, only recently have growers slowly been returning to survey the damage.

Along with the FAMEWS app, FAO handed over fall armyworm monitoring tools to the Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) at a recent ceremony hosted by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). This organization runs the Grower Field School projects in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.

FAO Representative Mercy Chikoko said: “The app can be used to upload real-time data for the attention of experts pertaining to current field invasions. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will ensure that both sites have running water to be able to wash hands regularly and also rehydrate. These water tanks will enable rain harvesting and irrigation.”

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