Caterpillar plague spreads in Africa

A caterpillar plague in Liberia has affected 400,000 people in more than 100 villages in the west African nation so far, the Associated Press reported. The so-called "army worms" -- two to three centimetres in length -- also were continuing their invasion of neighbouring Guinea.


The caterpillars have been clogging wells with excrement, eating vital crops — including banana, plantain, coffee and cocoa — and forcing people from their farms. "Definitely we have a crisis on our hands," said Winfred Hammond, a representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, who provided the estimates.


Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, declared a state of emergency in the afflicted region earlier this week. Two international pest-control experts — plant-protection experts from Ghana and Sierra Leone — have been dispatched to the worst-affected areas.


The outbreak in Liberia, which is recovering from years of civil war, has been blamed on the unusually long rainy season of 2008.


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