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Armyworm infestation in Lesotho
Late January 2013 an African Armyworm outbreak has been reported in Lesotho. 8 districts of a total of 10 have reported infestation of African Armyworm, a deleterious pest of crops and rangeland herbage.
Official estimates indicate that over 35,000 HA of crop lands have been affected. This represents 25% of the estimated planted area in 2012-2013 summer crop season in Lesotho (141,000 HA). Pest density ranges from 50 to 250 larvae/m2. About 90% of the damage is concentrated in four districts (Berea, Leribe, Maseru and Mafeteng).
Armyworms are also severely affecting rangelands, an essential source of food for livestock in rural Lesotho (no estimates for affected rangeland are available). These grasslands are still breeding grounds for thousands of army worms.
The Government of Lesotho requested financial and technical assistance from FAO to manage the outbreak to complement their efforts. A joint mission of Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and FAO conducted field assessments in March 2013 and confirmed the extent of damage to the maize crop. In addition the mission identified large breeding areas in rangelands which pose immediate threats of secondary outbreaks and future infestations.