BEIJING (Reuters) - The prevention and control of armyworm is crucial to China’s ability to hit annual grain output targets and maintain economic and social stability, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.
The destructive worm has spread to 14 provinces and regions and has been found in 92,000 hectares of farmland in China after it was first detected in January. The situation is severe and the task is urgent, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural affairs said in a statement on its website.
Fall armyworm, which feasts in large numbers on the leaves and stems of many plant species, including sorghum, corn and sugarcane, can infest and damage hundreds of hectares of corn overnight.
The ministry has urged local authorities in south and southwestern regions, breeding areas for the worm, to focus on preventing the pest from moving in and out of the regions.
Corn production regions in northern China are key prevention and control areas and must make sure the pest does not spread and hit large areas of farmland, the ministry said.
Native to the Americas, the fast-spreading pest was expected to reach China’s corn belt in the north in June and July, according to estimate by an expert with a government think-tank.
China grows corn on about 42 million hectares and is expected to produce about 257 million tonnes this year.
Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Jane Merriman and David Goodman