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Japan braces for fall armyworm

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has warned of significant damage to farm products unless authorities and farmers take appropriate measures to stop the advance of the voracious fall armyworm.

First detected in Kagoshima Prefecture (in the southwest of Japan), in July last year, the fall armyworm has caused damage in about 30 of the nation's 47 prefectures. It will eat the leaves and stems of about 80 plant species including such economically important plants as corn, sorghum, vegetables -- and perhaps more threatening to Japan's food security, rice -- before emerging from caterpillar form to become an adult moth. quoted Masaya Matsumura, a pest control expert at the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization as saying: "Efforts by one individual country alone are unlikely to yield fruitful results when the pest spreads from one country to another.”

Native to tropical and subtropical regions of the North and South Americas, the fall armyworm, or FAW, has since 2016 spread rapidly to Africa, India, Southeast Asia and China. It was detected in South Korea and Taiwan in June last year.

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