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Fall Armyworm is a plant pest originating in the Americas. Over the last few years, the insect has rapidly spread around Africa, the Near East and Asia. Urgent action is required to prevent this pest from threatening the global food security and livelihoods of millions  of smallholder families around the world. FAO’s new global initiative aims  to mobilize USD 500 million over 2020–22 to take radical, direct and coordinated measures to strengthen prevention and pest control capacities at a global level.


Fall Armyworm (FAW), or Spodoptera frugiperda , is a moth native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. In its caterpillar state, it can cause significant damage to plants in the absence of natural control, good agronomic practices or resistant varieties. FAW prefers maize but can also feed on more than 80 other crops, including rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton.

Once established in a country, Fall Armyworm is almost impossible to eradicate and very difficult to stop from spreading – an adult can fly up to several hundred kilometres. Since its arrival in West Africa at the beginning of 2016, FAW has reached most African countries. It has also spread further to the Near East and to more than a dozen Asian countries, including China and India. Europe could be next.

Based on 2018 estimates from 12 African countries, up to 17.7 million tonnes of maize could be lost annually to FAW on the continent – enough to feed tens of millions of people. The most direct impact of these losses falls on smallholder maize farmers, most of whom rely on the crop to stave off hunger and poverty.


FAO has developed a new three-year Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control to ensure a strong coordinated approach at country, regional and global levels.

The Global Action will massively scale up current FAO efforts against FAW thanks to multiple mechanisms such as Farmer Field Schools, partnerships with research institutions and the private sector, South–South Cooperation, regional and national plant protection organizations and specific national FAW Task Forces.

The Global Action has three key objectives:

  • Establish global coordination and regional collaboration on monitoring, early warning, and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of Fall Armyworm.
  • Reduce crop yield losses caused by FAW.
  • Lower the risk of further spread of FAW to new areas.

A total budget of USD 500 million will need to be mobilized to implement the Global Action in a coordinated and harmonized manner in three regions: Africa, Near East and Asia-Pacific. Interventions will be targeted at priority countries identified through FAO’s new data-driven Hand-in-Hand Initiative. This initiative pairs the world’s most developed countries with those with the highest poverty and hunger rates, and supports the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control will reinforce efforts to discourage the widespread use of chemical pesticides, and put emphasis on prevention. It will advocate a combination of robust monitoring and early warning systems – including FAO’s FAMEWS tool – along with IPM as the basis for supporting farmers in managing FAW.

The Global Action will establish a global coordination mechanism for an open and collaborative dialogue towards common solutions. It will also support the establishment and scaling up of national Task Forces on FAW, and the mobilization of resources for applied research geared towards practical and efficient solutions.

These new efforts will complement and bolster ongoing FAO activities on FAW. Over the last three years, FAO has already spearheaded 63 FAW-related projects, mostly in Africa, establishing many good practices and accumulating much valuable knowledge along the way. The Global Action will support the further dissemination and application of these knowledge resources in a more targeted and extensive manner, so that no one is left behind.