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Thread: India: The Fall Armyworm Advances on Maize and Sorghum Producers

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    India: The Fall Armyworm Advances on Maize and Sorghum Producers

    The fall armyworm has made its way to India. On July 30, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research issued a warning that the pest, a caterpillar formally known as Spodoptera frugiperda, had reached the subcontinent. So far, it has been detected in roughly 70 percent of maize crops in Chikkaballapur in southern Karnataka state, and reports suggest that it has also spread to Tamil Nadu and Telangana. Alarm over the infestation has grown over the past week as scientists warn of the insect's dangers.

    Despite India's rapid urbanization, nearly 70 percent of the country's population lives in rural areas where farming is an important industry. Farmers, in fact, are India's most politically powerful constituency. The fall armyworm invasion will put their livelihood at risk, and with it, India's agricultural output; Karnataka, for example, accounts for nearly 20 percent of the country's maize production. Furthermore, because the traditionally poor agricultural sector will have a difficult time containing the infestation, the fall armyworm will probably continue to spread throughout the subcontinent in the months ahead. The insects' proliferation and harm to crop yields will provoke further backlash from Indian farmers, already at odds with the government over resource availability, support and representation.

    If the species spreads throughout the Eurasian landmass, it could pose a significant threat to global food security. As a result, it will be important to watch for signs of the fall armyworm in other major agricultural producers, namely China, that may have trouble containing it. In addition, pesticide resistance in the species, something scientists are already starting to detect, would be a significant development, making controlling infestations even more difficult.

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    global food security

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