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Crop-Eating Worms, Cattle Disease Add to South Sudan Anguish

  • Agriculture is latest victim of more than three years of war
  • Livestock a vital component of an economy that’s in freefall
A farmer displays the caterpillar larva of a fall armyworm.

A farmer displays the caterpillar larva of a fall armyworm.

Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg
Updated on

More than three years of fighting have slashed South Sudan’s oil output and left half its people facing severe food shortages. Now crop-eating caterpillars and livestock disease are hitting the world’s newest nation’s meager other resources.

The fall armyworms, already wreaking havoc elsewhere in Africa, have destroyed vital corn and sorghum crops and grazing land since arriving in South Sudan in June. Meanwhile, seven outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease this year have infected as many as a third of the nation’s 12 million cattle, a linchpin of the rural economy. As clashes between government forces and rebels continue, damage to such key sectors is spreading more misery and may complicate any peacetime rebuilding.