Southern Africa urged to put in place infrastructure for fall armyworm management

SOUTHERN Africa fall armyworm stakeholders have called for an increase in investment and stronger coordination and partnerships in responding to the pest.

BY MUNESU NYAKUDYA

The call was made after a stakeholders’ meeting held in Johannesburg last week, organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in collaboration with Southern African Development Community (Sadc).

The meeting was convened to discuss the regional fall armyworm response actions, lessons learnt, challenges and preparedness plans for the 2017/18 production season.

“Given its adaptability and tenacious nature, many experts believe that the pest will continue building its momentum and impact on food security in the region in the coming seasons and years to come,” said FAO sub-regional co-ordinator for Southern Africa, David Phiri. “We have, however, an opportunity to prevent this threat from reaching disastrous proportions by building the resilience of farmers and institutions to this pest.”

Phiri said despite efforts made so far to manage the fall armyworm infestation in the region, there were still many issues that needed to be addressed to reach the desired scale in terms of protecting the food security and livelihoods of populations at risk from the pest.

The meeting identified funding gaps with respect to farmer education and awareness, monitoring and surveillance, impact assessment, research, as well as rolling out of pest management options.

“There is, therefore, an urgent need to support governments in the region with financial resources to ensure effective management of the fall armyworm in Southern Africa,” said Phiri.

Representatives of Sadc member States, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, donors, development partners, farmers’ organisations, academia and research organisations observed that since the fall armyworm had established itself on the continent and in the region, there was no other option than to manage it effectively and sustainably.

Member States and stakeholders were challenged to make strong commitments by allocating more funding, developing programmes and putting in place infrastructure for the management of the fall armyworm and other emerging and re-emerging crop pests and diseases with potential to cause food insecurity in the region.