Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu


Opening remarks by Dr. QU Dongyu, Director-General, FAO

20 July 2020

As prepared



Distinguished Vice Chairs and Members of the Steering Committee,

Dear Colleagues.

1. As Chair of the Steering Committee for the Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control, it is my pleasure to welcome you to this virtual meeting.

2. Since our last Steering Committee meeting in February, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased risks to all aspects of global well-being, including public health, livelihoods and food security.

3. In the meantime, fall armyworm continues to spread and is now confirmed in Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

4. Even as we manage the impacts of COVID-19, FAO has redoubled its efforts to mobilize for a globally coordinated fall armyworm response, filling close to 20 percent of the funding gap we estimated in February.

5. 7.2 million US Dollars of this has come through the technical cooperation programme, 1.5 million US Dollars through South-South technical cooperation and 5.4 million US Dollars through donor countries.

6. The first Regional Steering Committee meeting for Asia and the Pacific was conducted on 17 June 2020.

7. Meetings of national focal persons are also taking place in the Near East and North Africa region and Sub-Saharan Africa.

8. FAO has initiated a baseline study among affected countries and found that most have set up national task forces for fall armyworm response.

9. A pilot study for fall armyworm-related yield loss and economic impact showed an average yield loss of 10.8 percent, with some farmers experiencing very high losses on top of pre-existing food insecurity.

10. To support mitigation efforts at field level, we have continued to provide knowledge and innovative tools for fall armyworm control through virtual training and webinars.

11. We have published new technical guidelines.

12. And we have activated seven technical working groups, which will assess fall armyworm management options and chart strategies for technology upscaling at country level.

13. However, challenges remain in capacity building, scaling up of sustainable management practices, regional concerted management as well as mobilizing resources for fall armyworm response, particularly in the context of COVID-19 and other threats to food security and livelihoods, such as desert locust invasions.

14. This is why capacity development and experience exchange are vital, especially in terms of locally validating management options and scaling up sustainable technologies.

15. We also need to find innovative ways to translate data collected through applications such as FAMEWS and other tools into actionable early warnings that can reach farmers on time.

16. Esteemed Steering Committee Members, we look to you for guidance on these issues.

17. I wish you productive discussions today to ensure the success of the Global Action in combating this pest and helping smallholder farmers.

Thank you.