| KAMPALA, March 24
KAMPALA, March 24 Crop-eating caterpillars known
as fall armyworms have started spreading across Uganda,
authorities said on Friday, raising fears for the surrounding
East Africa region already devastated by drought.
The pests have appeared in about 20 districts in mostly
central and western areas and attacked about 40 percent of the
maize in some zones, the agriculture ministry said.
Their attacks and could potentially wipe out 11 percent of
the country's annual four-million-metric-ton output of the crop
and sugarcane fields had also suffered damage, the ministry
Some countries with confirmed outbreaks have faced bans on
exporting their agricultural products.
"Uganda is already struggling to cope ... coming from a bad
season ... This is an additional burden," Massimo Castiello,
deputy country representative for U.N. agency Food and
Agricultural Organisation (FAO), told Reuters.
The caterpillar is native to North and South America, though
it has already spread to other parts of Africa including Zambia,
Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and
Democratic Republic of Congo.
The United Nations fears it could reach Asia and the
Mediterranean in the next few years.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Aaron Maasho and