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Hunting the African Armyworm

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Created on 29 April 2013
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"We have arranged for you to meet the Vice President at 10am on Sunday. Is this OK?". That was it, my trip to Zambia was definitely on and I had just a few hours to prepare for my field visit and meet one of the country's top politicians who was leading their efforts to manage a food security crises. 
 
But as you can see in the video above, this visit turned out to be rather different from the rest.
 
For nearly twenty years now, I have been working on an infamous crop pest called the African armyworm. This small 3-4cm long caterpillar feeds on all of the major cereal crops, including maize, rice, sorghum and millet, as well as on pasture grasses where densities typically reach hundreds of insects per square metre. 
 
Together with David Grzywacz at the University of Greenwich and Wilfred Mushobozi at Crop Bioscience Solutions (CBS) Ltd in Tanzania, I have been trying to develop a local natural baculovirus called SpexNPV as a biological pesticide against this serious pest. As part of our research, we have visited more than 60 armyworm outbreaks across Africa in the last four years and clocked up thousands of miles in doing so.
 
Watch Related Video: War Report: Fighting Armyworms
 
More info: Video blog: The hunt for African armyworm
Produced by: BBSRC
Year: 2013
Language: English
Region: Zambia 

 

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