Army worms devastate maize fields in DR Congo's east

In the territory of Nyiragongo, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, maize farmers are crying
This field belonging to the Munguiko community has been ravaged by the armyworm and the damage is
enormous. The pests attack the leaves and stems of maize plants, leaving them unable to grow or reach
the flowering stage.
“It is army worms that attack our fields. They appear any time; in the dry season or the rainy season,” said
a farmer whose field has been devastated.
The pest is of interest to agronomist Jadot Mateso, who has set up a small nursery where maize seedlings
are well preserved and then taken to the fields.
Madot has urged farmers to plant varieties resistant to armyworm. In recent years, the pest has devastated
maize fields in Uganda, Zambia and Kenya among other countries.
“The caterpillar is called spodoptera frugiperda. It is native to North America. It causes a lot of damage in
the fields. Production can reduce by upwards of 60%,” said Madot.
The consequences are visible in the markets of Goma. The price of maize has risen significantly since
production has been down following the appearance of this armyworm.
Georgette Nyabadé, a trader, says that a bag of maize that used to cost 30 or 35 US dollars is now being
sold for 75 or 80 US dollars.
Armyworms are a serious crop pest in tropical and subtropical regions. These hungry caterpillars can
defoliate entire fields of crops before moving on in their search for more food, with devastating economic
Maize is a major staple in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
The armyworm invasion has caused fears of a food crisis in a region already hit by the conflict.

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