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

FAO Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control 
Third Steering Committee Meeting

Dr QU Dongyu, Director-General

Opening Remarks

21 December 2020

 As delivered


Dear Colleagues, and friends, all the Vice-Chairs and Members of the Steering Committee.

I also saw the new Chief Scientist, she is here. She was educated to work for crops.

Crops are from our heart, our fields, I was the son of a rice grower, and we know how pest and diseases can destroy our crops.

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, depending on where you are.

1. Welcome to the Third Steering Committee Meeting of the FAO Global Action for Fall Armyworm Control.

2. I am grateful for your continued support to our efforts to mitigate the impact of this devastating insect pest.

3. I am also pleased to announce that going forward, Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol, will Co-Chair this Steering Committee.

4. Thank you, Deputy Director-General (DDG), Maria Helena Semedo for having capably served as Co-Chair for the Steering Committee for the first year, when I started this Global Action.

5. Since our last meeting in July, Fall Armyworm has been reported in four new countries: Bhutan, Israel, Jordan and Syria. So it is still expanding. This is definitely not good news.

6. In that same period, the Global Action for Fall Armyworm control has made great strides. So we are fighting:

  • The FAO Fall Armyworm Secretariat has been established, with the new Director of the Plant Production and Protection Division as its Executive Secretary.
  • The Fall Armyworm Secretariat is comprised of a technical team with Members from across the Organization to cover the different required activities.
  • This includes colleagues from the International Plant Protection Convention, the Office of Innovation, from Resource Mobilization, Private Sector Partnerships and UN Collaboration, the South-South and Triangular Cooperation, the Office of Emergencies and Resilience, the FAO Investment Centre, Communications and IT Services.
  • Steering Groups on Fall Armyworm control have been established in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Near East and North Africa, and they are led by the Regional Representatives of the respective regions. I want to build real horizontal and vertical teams. Not only by playing the game of silos as it used to be in international academic sectors and especially in FAO. We now want to really build up a big team for a Task Force.
  • Eight demonstration countries and 53 pilot countries have been identified for implementation of Fall Armyworm control strategies in national and farmer’s levels. The eight demonstration countries are:
    • China, India, and the Philippines in Asia and the Pacific;
    • Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Kenya and Malawi in Africa; and
    • Egypt in North Africa and Near East.
  • Together, they represent eight agro-ecological zones, and over 50 percent of maize acreage in the three target regions.
  • National Task Forces for the eight demonstration countries for Fall Armyworm control are being strengthened; and focal points from the Fall Armyworm Secretariat have been identified to provide technical support for each of the demonstration countries.
  • An IPPC Regional Plant Protection Organization Task Force has been set up to support Fall Armyworm prevention for 21 countries in the Near East, North Africa, South Europe and the South Pacific.
  • The Technical Committee has conducted a global Integrated Pest Management (IPM) assessment and has developed general guidelines for implementation of regional IPM strategies in collaboration with the Fall Armyworm Secretariat – the results will be presented and discussed today.
  • From July to December 2020,FAO has received further pledges for USD 7.9 million from China, France, Norway and the European Union for the implementation of the Global Action on Fall Armyworm Control.
  • The Fall Armyworm Secretariat has started to publish a bi-monthly newsletter entitled “Fall Armyworm Control in Action”, which is disseminated to over 1,000 stakeholders.

7. Amid all these achievements, several challenges still persist:

  • There is a need for clear demonstrations of best-bet technologies for Fall Armyworm management, surveillance and monitoring at the field level.
  • More country-level coordination is required to respond to Fall Armyworm invasions.
  • Effective information-sharing mechanisms among countries within a region are needed.
  • And, lastly, we have an important and shared challenge in mobilizing the required financial resources. I think in this aspect we should learn from the desert locust, which before I came also was a headache. We started with USD 4.5 million, and I said it is ’dust’. Now I think it is Ms Beth Bechdol with other colleagues. You can also mobilize more necessary financial resources. We said we talk about Vitamin A, B and C, but we should talk about’ Vitamin M’ first – Vitamin Money.

8. These challenges can only be addressed through stronger collaboration and coordination among all stakeholders. I think you can also separate it at different layers. At country level, some countries like China and India can also donate by themselves and support by yourself. And for some weak and vulnerable countries, we can mobilize more resources for those vulnerable Members. That is a real cost-sharing mechanism. I am glad that all of you have again shown your continuous and critical support. 

9. The objectives of today’s meeting are four-fold:

  • First, to provide an update on progress in implementation of Global Action on Fall Armyworm Control at national, regional and global level.
  • Second, to endorse the general guidelines on regional IPM package for Fall Armyworm control to support countries in sustainable and effective pest management.
  • Third, to establish a Working Group on Resource Mobilization under the Steering Committee with DDG Bechdol acting as the Chair of the Group. The success of the Global Action at country and field level depend greatly on the availability of financial resources, and thus, on the success of this Working Group in mobilizing those resources.
  • Fourth, to discuss the way forward for implementation of the Global Action in farmers’ fields. Of importance is the guidance and support for the demonstration countries to strengthen coordination at the national level as well as information sharing within and across regions.

10. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Rob Bertram, who’s been my friend for quite a long time when we worked together as ex-Members of CGIAR – I remember this very well, and the Technical Committee Members for arranging the technical resources that have helped to produce the general guidelines for the implementation of the regional IPM strategy.

11. I would also like to thank the FAW Secretariat for all its efforts to organize the meeting today and for overseeing the day-to-day activities of the Global Action.

12. Esteemed colleagues, I really rely and count on your expertise to further guide the implementation of the Global Action and achieve concrete results. We can fight against the Fall Armyworm and save food for life and people.

13. I wish you a very fruitful and productive meeting!


I thank you all.