Alien Armyworm Invasion Spreads to Congo, Ravages Corn Crop

  • Local price of grain tripples after 63,000 hectares ruined
  • Corn-destroying pest spread across southern Africa since 2016

An outbreak of the crop-destroying fall army worm has spread to the Democratic Republic of Congo, laying waste to 63,000 hectares of corn in the southeast of the nation and causing corn prices to triple, according to the United Nations.

The armyworms, a type of caterpillar that arrived in West Africa from the Americas in January 2016, have already destroyed crops in Zambia, Zimbabwe and all nine provinces in South Africa, the continent’s biggest producer of the grain.

The outbreak in Congo, which began in north of the country, has now wrecked 80 percent of the corn in four regions along the southeastern border with Zambia, UN spokeswoman Florence Marchal told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Kinshasa. That’s resulted in the price of a 25-kilogram (55-pound) bag of corn rising to $30 from $10, and put thousands of people at risk, she said.

The situation in Congo is particularly concerning because the country’s other two main staples, bananas and manioc, are also currently affected by other diseases, she said.

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