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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

South Africa's minister calls for greater regional cooperation to tackle Fall Armyworm threat

Worm is spreading rapidly across Africa

6 July 2017, Rome – South Africa’s Agriculture minister, Senzeni Zokwana, today pointed to the Fall Armyworm (FAW) threat to food security and economic growth, and called for greater regional cooperation to tackle the spread of the pest.

"If we are to succeed as a continent, we need to improve the country-to-country cooperation, create regional early warning systems and make sure our scientists are working together,” he said in remarks following talks with FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today.

The minister participated at an event organized on the side-lines of FAO's Conference to raise awareness of the pest among agriculture ministers and other stakeholders. 

“In South Africa, we discovered that we had Armyworm in February this year, only to find that in some of our neighbouring countries it was there already for 2 or 3 years,” he said.

Fall Armyworm is a well-known pest in South America that has recently spread to Africa. It first appeared in West Africa in January 2016 and by early this year it attacked maize crops in southern Africa. It has now spread to East Africa and is expected to have an impact on their coming harvests.

Minister Zokwana commended FAO’s support in coordinating workshops and assisting countries in acknowledging its presence, which he said is “a step forward.”

South Africa’s participation at FAO’s Conference

"We were very impressed with the meeting from the first day of our arrival," the minister said in remarks following the meeting. "I have thanked FAO's Director-General for leading the efforts to make sure that the issues regarding food security and nutrition are taken up". 

Watch the minister's full remarks following the meeting: