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Cold temperature curbs armyworm outbreak – Grain SA

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CAPE TOWN – Cold weather, rains and resilient genetically-modified crops (GMO) have limited the damage brought on by an armyworm outbreak in Nigeria, the of Grain SA Jannie de Villiers said on Monday.

Neighbouring countries, just like Zambia and Zimbabwe, which do not grow GMO crops, are suffering larger losses.

“The worm is a tropical worm, therefore the cooler weather conditions are not conducive for it to multiply quicker as well as the wetness has an effect on its ability of fly,” De Villiers told Reuters within an agriculture commodities conference.

The provinces of Limpopo and North West during the north of South Africa were most plagued by the caterpillars, which spread southward from neighbouring countries after first being detected in Nigeria last year.

Harder to detect and eradicate than its African counterpart, the Central American fall armyworm prefers maize, the staple crop in the region.

Its invasion follows an El Nino-induced drought that scorched areas this past year, leaving millions needing food aid.

“Currently once we think about the crop we can not call it a tragedy, primarily because of the GMOs and our ability to protect our crops through commercial agriculture,” said De Villiers.

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