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22 July 2017

17 issues raised, agreed at FAO experts meeting on Fall Armyworm in Africa

The three-day Experts meeting which started on Tuesday in Accra is to deliberate on the outbreak of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation rapidly spreading across the Africa region.

It also aims at exchanging practical experiences and best practices on how best to manage FAW.

Below are the key bulletins of what transpired at the meeting on Day one.

• FAO said a number of other characteristics make FAW particularly hard to control. These include the fact that the moths are strong flyers, they breed at a high rate and that their larvae can feed on a particularly wide range of host plants.

• FAO agreed to Support the development of community-based Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programmes with emphasis on preventive measures, and comprehensive biological control programmes.

• It will also import proven beneficial organisms from the Americas for the biological control.

• FAO said it took immediate actions on the invasion to support countries to raise awareness and support governments in the development of FAW action plans, through its Technical Cooperation Programme.

• FAO said little is known so far regarding the behaviour of the FAW in the new environment. While waiting results from research, FAO believes that the expertise and knowledge gained from relevant sources can be adapted to Africa.

“That is exactly the objective of this Expert meeting: “Learning from the experience of the Americas” where the pest has long been known and farmers have adjusted to manage it,” FAO Assistant Director- General and Regional Representative for Africa, BukarTijani, said.

• FAO agreed to capitalize knowledge of the Americas, good practices, innovative policies and technologies adopted to manage the pest for many years now.

• The leadership said, the recommendations of the meeting will be tested and adapted to local conditions across Africa via the Farmers’ Field Schools, and other forms of adaptive research.

• There will be a follow-up workshop aimed at Curriculum Development for Farmers Field School.

• The incidence of the pest has been confirmed in 25 countries in Africa as of June 2017 since the first official report of FAW presence in Nigeria in January 2016.

• It is estimated that more than 1.5 million ha of maize is currently affected in just six affected countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

• FAW poses a serious threat to African agriculture and food security. It is estimated that there are over 200 million people dependent on maize for food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

• FAO Assistant Director- General and Regional Representative for Africa, BukarTijani, urged the participants to come out with recommendations that could be applied in African countries for managing the FAW outbreak.

• FAO developed a framework consisting of four main components, namely: Surveillance and early warning, Impact assessment, Sustainable Management and Coordination.

• It said it would begin sustainable Management practices immediately based on best-known practices, while further developing sound management options in the longer term.

• Members at the meeting said coordination is needed at three main levels – national coordination through task forces or committees at the operational level; at regional level, sharing information on experiences of control, and early warning, between countries; and Africa-wide, sharing information on a broader basis, mobilizing resources and monitoring the overall results of projects and programmes.

• “FAO will leave no stone unturned to build necessary synergies to achieve that goal,” the leadership said in the meeting.

• The long term South-South Cooperation (SSC) effort on FAW, and potentially on other production constraint aims at deepening partnership to fully integrate experience from the Americas in the long-term management of FAW in Africa.

The three-day meeting is bringing together a number of experts on FAW from across Africa region and the Americas, where farmers and researchers have been managing and studying the pest for many years.

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