The African Development Bank in partnership with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), hold meeting for regional action against highly destructive Fall Armyworm in East Africa
15 October 2018
Nairobi, KENYA 14 October 2018 – The African Development Bank in partnership with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), brought the latest edition of their action plan to stop the spread of Fall Armyworm (FAW)—an invasive pest threatening food supply and incomes of millions of African smallholder farmers – to East Africa.
The “From Plan to Action” meeting was held on 11 and 12 October, and brought together government representatives and focal persons responsible for coordinating FAW response in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, the Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda as well as development partners, researchers and the private sector. It follows similar meetings held in Lusaka, Zambia for Southern Africa and in Yaoundé, Cameroon for partners in West and Central Africa.
Opening the event, Joseph Coompson, the African Development Bank’s Regional Manager for Eastern Africa, said that FAW was a highly damaging transboundary pest threatening Africa’s food and nutrition security.
“Reports have shown that, if no appropriate action is taken, the fall armyworm could cause from 21 to 53 percent of maize yield losses in 12 African countries within five years. These losses are valued at US$2.48 billion to US$6.187 billion. This would significantly affect African countries, which are already importing food worth more than US$35 billion and the import bill is expected to reach more than US$100 billion by 2026,” he said.
The African Development Bank and IITA are spearheading a harmonized, multi-stakeholder regional approach that emphasizes integrated pest and disease management to control FAW via the Bank’s Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT) agenda.
“The FAW is a serious threat to Kenya’s food security. Last year, the menace reduced maize yield in Kenya by 20%. We are therefore looking forward to leaving this meeting with effective low-cost technology options to deploy to farmers in the coming season,” said David Mwangi, Head of Plant Protection Services with Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture State Department for Crop Development.
Development partners and researchers present, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) presented on ongoing initiatives and technologies for controlling FAW, as did the private sector companies present. These included Syngenta, Corteva, and Bayer.
Country focal points from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Madagascar, and the Seychelles made presentations on the status of FAW in their countries and then outlined their integrated pest management options for implementation in the immediate, medium, and long terms as well as current challenges.
They also looked at ways to scale out the most effective technologies to combat FAW to smallholder farmers in the region. One immediate option available for scaling out will be on the Syngenta Foundation’s seed treatment pesticide known as Fortenza Dou, considered effective against FAW for the first 30 days after crop emergence.
“This is a useful exercise in our efforts to transform value chains of maize, an important commodity for food security in the Eastern and Southern African regions and sorghum and millet in the Sahel—these are the next loved hosts of the FAW after maize,” said Chris Akem, TAAT Coordinator at IITA.
“It is important for strengthening partnerships to ensure a coordinated regional approach for such a devastating pest,” he added.
The Fall Armyworm adult is dispersed by wind; its later caterpillar stages feed inside maize whorls and cobs where they are inaccessible to chemical sprays. In its short lifespan of about 10 days, a single, mated, adult female moth can lay between 1,500 and 2,000 eggs at several locations which are tens of kilometers apart. Therefore, if not properly controlled, many more countries could be at risk, as well as the food and income security of over 300 million resource-poor people in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in those regions where maize and sorghum and millet are staple food crops.
For more information:
Philip Boahen, Chief Agriculture Policy Economist, AfDB. Email: email@example.com
Peter Chinwada, TAAT Fall Armyworm Compact Leader, IITA. Email: P.Chinwada@cgiar.org