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2019-08-09T21:37:00.0000000Z
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Crop invaders: China's small farmers struggle to defeat armyworm

Reuters
https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-crops-armyworm-china/crop-invaders-chinas-small-farmers-struggle-to-defeat-armyworm-idUKKCN1UZ0LL

MENGHAI, China (Reuters) - Yan Wenliu leans on the side of his cart as he prepares to leave his sugarcane field in Southwest China, bewildered by the formidable new pest that has ambushed his crops this year.

“I don’t know what it is,” says Yan, a 36-year-old farmer from Menghai county in Yunnan province. “But it is bigger than other ones. I have never seen this worm before.”

The creature Yan is unable to name is the fall armyworm, the larva of the fall armyworm moth.

Known locally as the “heart-devouring worm,” the destructive pest has spread more than 3,000 km (1,865 miles) north since migrating from neighboring Myanmar seven months ago, reaching 21 provinces and regions in China and posing a grave threat to grain output.

In Yunnan alone, where the pest struck first in China, some 1.29 million mu (86,000 hectares) had been affected by mid-June, including corn, sugarcane, sorghum and ginger crops.

First found in the Americas, fall armyworm has spread through Africa and Asia since 2016, with the moths flying up to 100 km (60 miles) a night. It can’t be eradicated and its management is both costly and difficult.

This poses a formidable challenge in China where about 90% of crop production comes from small farms of less than a hectare (2.5 acres) and owners lack basic knowledge and resources to tackle the pest.

Beijing warned earlier this year that armyworm was a severe threat to the country’s food security and in May launched a campaign to “snatch grain from the insect’s mouth.”

Millions of yuan have been allocated to affected regions and experts sent to educate farmers.

In Yunnan, the government has set up 3,500 monitoring sites at local agriculture bureaus and conducted frequent field inspections, the provincial agriculture bureau said in an email to Reuters.

Local authorities have also provided training to farmers and pesticide dealers on identification and prevention of armyworm, the bureau added.

Read on: https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-crops-armyworm-china/crop-invaders-chinas-small-farmers-struggle-to-defeat-armyworm-idUKKCN1UZ0LL

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