USAID offers $150,000 reward for tackling Armyworm menace


The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is offering a $150,000 reward for ways to combat the armyworm menace.  The agency warned last week the pests threaten the livelihood of millions of African farmers.

The fall armyworm is responsible for targeting maize, which unfortunately is a staple crop for many families in Africa. As such, USAID is looking for the best ideas, best digital tools to combat the pest and disseminate information and technology to help farmers manage it.

According to coordinator of the Fall Armyworm Task Force at the USAID Bureau of Food Security, Regina Eddy, the agency is offering a prize of $150,000 for the most viable solution. Moreover, two awards of $75,000 will go to the “most promising” solutions. Lastly, two awards of $50,000 will go to an “early stage” solution that shows the most potential.

Agriculture experts say the fall armyworm could cause more than $13 billion in crop losses in Africa this year. The moths are comfortable with hot climates and can travel hundreds of miles per day when carried by wind.

The pests originated in the United States, where they usually attacked crops during the autumn months. According to USAID says they attack 80 other types of crops. These include sorghum, cotton, rice and sugarcane.

Currently, scientists are researching pesticides, landscape management methods, varieties of maize and genetically modified crops that might stop the pests from consuming crops.