11 Asian countries reach a consensus on prevention and control of fall armyworms in Kunming 12-03-2019

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in China held an international conference, with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO), for preventing and controlling fall armyworms in Asia in Kunming city, Yunnan province from November 12 to November 14. More than 60 agricultural officers and experts from UNFAO and eleven Asian countries including Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, as well as Vietnam attended the conference, discussing sustainable methods of handling fall armyworms.

At the conference, officers and experts from the eleven countries shared research progress and experiences regarding preventing and controlling fall armyworms, analyzing the current and future situations and challenges of handling fall armyworms so that they could come up with better solutions.

Since 2008, fall armyworms have spread throughout the north and south of Asia each year and 16 countries have suffered from damaged farmland. As fall armyworms have strong fertility and eat various crops, migrate quickly and infest widely, it is difficult to keep control of them. Other difficulties also include a lack of clear indicators for the coming of fall armyworms due to their unpredictable behavior, farmers’ lack experience in dealing with the species and their lack of natural predators.

Asian countries develop strategies to combat fall army worms

After sharing different opinions, the eleven countries reached a consensus on preventing and controlling fall armyworms and established an agreement concerning sustainable methods for handling fall armyworms in grasslands in Asia.

According to the agreement, first, cooperative detection in areas will be developed.  Asian countries, especially neighboring countries, should strengthen their cooperative detection methods of fall armyworms, such as the monitoring of indicators for the coming of fall armyworms. Second, it is necessary to establish a mechanism for exchanging information. Through the monitoring of indicators for fall armyworms, the International Plant Protection Convention and other information exchange mechanisms, countries can share information including updates on fall armyworms, preventive and control measures, and research findings.

Third, Asian countries should strengthen the communication of regional technology by holding annual international conferences, establishing technical training for preventing fall armyworms, developing expert exchange groups to share ideas, opinions and experiences concerning the prevention of fall armyworms, as well as advancing the levels of prevention and control technology.

Fourth, the eleven countries agreed to primarily use the method of biological control, which is to apply natural insect enemies to control fall armyworms and decrease the use of pesticides. Fifth, governments from the eleven countries should offer support to farmers with necessary training and funding.

Preventative strategies successfully curb damage caused by fall armyworms in China

At the conference, the eleven countries also made a decision to set up a fall armyworm work group in the Asia-Pacific region under the Asia Pacific Plant Protection Committee. Each country will appoint one to two liaisons. China, as the first rotating presiding country, will set up a department of secretary to coordinate the work.

In 2019, the corn planting areas in countries including Bangladesh, Cambodia and Laos have been severely damaged by fall armyworms. According to the incomplete statistics, the damaged area was roughly 2 million acres and the amount of corn decreased by as much as 10% in some areas. In China, around 1.1 million acres of land has been destroyed by fall armyworms. Thanks to the effective measures from Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in China and the concentration on the Chinese authorities, apart from a loss in southern corn farmland of less than 5%, other corn-producing areas did not suffer any loss.

For more information on China’s crop market, please check our Crop Protection China Monthly Report.

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