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Taiwan takes action to eliminate, stop spread of crop-eating pest

2019-06-14  English News
fall armyworms / Photo courtesy of CNA
fall armyworms / Photo courtesy of CNA
Taipei, June 13 (CNA) Premier Su Tseng-chang has ordered government agencies to step up efforts to eliminate and prevent the spread of fall armyworms (FAW) after the crop-eating pest was found on farms in three counties around Taiwan, a Cabinet spokesperson said Thursday.

Su said at a Cabinet meeting Thursday that the battle against the fall armyworm, a highly invasive pest that destroys crops, could present a more formidable challenge than African swine fever (ASF), according to Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka.

The premier also said that the Council of Agriculture (COA) will work with local governments to eliminate fall armyworms as soon as they are discovered because the insect pest can only be effectively controlled when its larvae are small.

Su also directed the COA to set up standard procedures for FAW destruction that local governments can follow and introduce procedures for farmers in affected areas to claim compensation, while rewarding people for reporting the discovery of the destructive pest.

Noting that the fall armyworms may have come to Taiwan from southern China, Su said that the crop-eating pest -- first detected in China in January 2019 -- has since spread across most Chinese provinces.

The invasive pest was first found last weekend in a corn field in Miaoli, but has since also been confirmed on farms in Yilan and Chiayi counties, Su noted, adding that relevant government agencies are on high alert for further reports of the pest.

Su said he has ordered the establishment of a fall armyworm response task force composed of officials from central and local governments to direct nationwide operations.

A day earlier at an inter-agency meeting, Su asked the COA to speed up operations to confirm the presence of fall armyworms on local farms and said the central government will make funds available to local governments for pest control, immediately upon request.

As it takes 14-21 days for fall armyworm larvae to mature, the next 10-14 days will be crucial to Taiwan's efforts to prevent the spread of the pest, he said.