>> It's blighted crops from Mali to Zambia. But the end may be in sight for the fall armyworm, a voracious caterpillar that's threatening the food security of more than 300 million people in Africa, causing damage to an estimated 20 to 50% of the maize harvest, which much of the region relies on for food.
Malawi recently reported maize output declined by 28% last year due to the crop-eating fall armyworm and drought. But now British scientists are trialing new ways of combating the pest without using expensive and harmful pesticides.>> We're looking at the crop variety, seeing if we can get more resistant crops.
Then secondly, we're looking for a repellent into crops that can be used as a kind of push to push the pest away. And then we're also looking for attractive track crops, that's the third thing. So you can divert the insect to another area away from the crop.>> In other words, driving away the fall armyworm using plants they find unappetizing, or luring them away with plants they view as more tasty.
>> This is the bait station.>> The team is also trialing a novel bait station designed to use natural alternatives to chemical killing agents.>> The ultimate aim would be, if the system is a success, would be to roll out other crops in other countries. Not just beans and peas, and beating pests off those crops, but as in many different crops as sort of almost an alternative to pesticides is how we would envisage it, or complimentary to pesticides
>> Almost all Sub-Saharan countries have reported infestations affecting millions of hectares of crops. With the fall armyworm recently spotted in Asia, a solution can’t come soon enough.