Photo: Madhusudan Guragain/Republica Maize plant after American fall armyworm attack.
BANEPA, Aug 15: The government has confirmed the entry of the American fall armyworm in Nepal.
Dilli Ram Sharma, chief of Plant Quarantine and Pest Management Center and chairperson of National Plant Protection Association told Republica that the 19th meeting of the center officially announced the entry of fall armyworm (Spodoptera Frugiperda) in Nepal. "The meeting also decided to inform farmers and other stakeholders about the invasive pest," added Sharma.Plant and pest experts had been talking about the entry of the fall armyworm in Nepal since long. The association has already sent pest sample to Agriculture Research Council in Bangalore for needful investigation.
"Lab reports of two samples state that the pest is not fall armyworm. However, lab report of the third sample confirms the pest as fall armyworm.
Entry of American fall armyworm was confirmed in Karnataka state of neighboring India in July last year. Its entry to Nepal was confirmed after a year.
“We had been studying about the potential entry of the pest after its presence was confirmed in Karnataka, India,” said Sharma. He added that the center had been conducting surveillance and field visit programs and had been sending the doubtful samples for lab test.
Of the three samples sent for lab test, the first two – sent in January and June -- were of Spodoptera Litura. However, the center had continued its study after farmers complained of new pest attack in maize crop.
Plant Quarantine and Pesticide management Center and other teams visited various farms of Kavre, Sindhupalchowk, Nawalpur and Chitwan and collected samples of the pest. The samples were sent to Bangalore for lab test in July 30. The report, which came on August 9, confirmed that the samples were of American fall armyworm.
According to pest experts, the fall armyworm damages 80 kinds of crops including maize.
The pest, which had entered African continent three years ago, has created problem in the entire sub-Saharan African region. It entered India, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand in 2018. Similarly, it entered Myanmar, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, Egypt and South Korea in June 2019.
Experts say that the fall armyworm is expanding far and wide because of the moth's flying capability.