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UPL: Virus that fights fall armyworm to be deployed across Africaqrcode

Sep. 10, 2020

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Sep. 10, 2020

An agreement has been signed to try and fight the fall armyworm, a pest that’s devouring crops across Africa, by infecting the caterpillars with a virus that keeps their population in check. 


The product, Fawligen, contains a naturally occurring virus. It will be distributed across the continent, with the exception of Nigeria, by UPL Ltd., an Indian agrochemicals company, according to a statement on Tuesday. UPL signed the agreement with Australia’s AgBiTech Ltd, which developed the product. 


The fall armyworm arrived in West Africa in 2016 and has since spread to 44 countries on the continent. If left unchecked, it could cut corn production by 17.7 million tons a year and cause $4.8 billion in economic losses while threatening the food security of 300 million people, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. The caterpillar eats more than 80 crops, ranging from sorghum to sugar cane. 


Fawligen is “a highly effective biological tool, which will help farmers to manage a pest that causes significant damage every year to key crops,” Marcel Dreyer, UPL’s regional head for Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, said in the statement. 


The product has been tested in Kenya, Ghana and Ivory Coast.





Source: Bloomberg

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