An unidentified pest has destroyed nearly 50 farms in the Ajakuac area of Twic County in Warrap State, local officials said, posing a major threat to food production in the area.
Simon Agujok, the Executive Director of Ajakuac area, told Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday that the locals suspected the unknown pest might be the fall armyworm.
“The insect came since July. When we investigated the issue, some people said it is the fall armyworm. But the only people who can identify the insect are agriculture experts. When we assessed the damages yesterday (Monday), we found out that the pest has destroyed 49 farms, but we did not cover the whole area,” Agujok said.
The fall armyworm, so called because it eats its way through most of the vegetation in its way as it marches through crops, is native to North and South America but was identified for the first time in Africa in 2016.
The fall armyworm prefers maize plants but also feeds on sorghum, millet, vegetables and other crops.
The executive director said he had reported the matter to the state government so that agriculture experts could be dispatched to the area to investigate the pest.
According to Agujok, there is a lack of agriculture experts in the area.
The local official said the pest is threatening food production and the livelihoods of farmers already struggling with a deepening economic crisis in the country.
Kuol Marial Ngor, a Senior Inspector of Horticulture in Twic County, said:” These pests are always brought by drought when the rains delay for nearly a month. There is no solution at the moment because the crops are damaged. And at the same time, the farmers have missed the season.”
He said the state government would investigate to identify the destructive pest in Ajakuac.
The pest in Ajakuac is an additional challenge for residents who are struggling with a deepening economic crisis. South Sudan’s economy has been battered by a drop in global crude prices, driving prices higher.