The SDSN’s Thematic Network on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems hosted a virtual, e-conference on fall armyworm (FAW) in Africa from October 22 to 26, 2018. Fall armyworm is an agricultural pest native to the Americas but introduced to Africa in 2015 or 2016. In the 3-4 years since its introduction, it has spread across the entire continent and is responsible for maize yield losses ranging from 20-50%. This is especially challenging for smallholder farmers, where yield declines result in lost income and hunger, and who often lack the knowledge or financial resources to recognize and respond to new pest species.
A number of experts presented on the challenge of FAW and solutions, in particular how to move away from the overuse of broad-spectrum pesticides, which are often ineffective and potentially harmful to human and environmental health, towards more effective responses such as integrated pest management (IPM), push-pull, and early warning systems.