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Major corn producing areas safe from army worms

By WANG XIAOYU | China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-18 08:48

China has successfully defended its key corn-producing areas against the invasion of fall army worms, a destructive pest that has spread to 25 provincial-level regions since its first sighting in January, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on Tuesday.

The pest, which predominantly damages corn but also poses threats to sugar cane and sorghum, has infested more than 1 million hectares of farmland in China. About 80 percent of the affected fields are located in Southwest China, including Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, said Pan Wenbo, an official with the ministry.

"The worm did not reach the northeastern regions, the country's top corn growing area," he said."In affected areas, reductions in yield are contained under 5 percent. This means total grain production during this autumn won't be disrupted by the newly arrived pest."

Despite progress in safeguarding the country's crops against fall army worms this year, Pan warned that its spread will become "normal" in the country.

"Agricultural experts have concluded that fall army worms can survive the winter and breed in southern parts of China, especially the subtropical areas," he said. "And new pests might migrate from neighboring countries during early spring."

China plans to intensify its prevention and control efforts against the pest by deploying more monitoring devices and incorporating smart and big data technologies in the future, according to Zhu Enlin, an official with the ministry.

"We will also step up cooperation with Myanmar, Vietnam and other neighboring countries to minimize risks of the pest migrating from overseas," he said.

The fall army worm, native to tropical and subtropical areas in North and South America, was first discovered in Yunnan province in early January and spread fast across the country's corn fields in the southern and southwestern regions.

To curb its spread, the Ministry of Finance has allocated 500 million yuan ($72 million) while local finance authorities have allocated 360 million yuan.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has also dispatched more than 40 groups of technical experts to carry out on-site inspections and provide guidance to farmers.

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