FAO in Egypt

FAO and MALR resuming efforts to face Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation in Egypt


Luxor, Egypt - The Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR), resumed the second and third phases of the training program on Fall Armyworm (FAW) surveillance, monitoring and management.

The program targeted pest control specialists from eight governorates in southern Egypt, namely Aswan, Luxor, Qena, Assiut, Sohag, El Menia, Beni Suef and Fayoum, as well as participants from the Central Administration of Pest Control, from MALR, in addition to researchers from research stations in Luxor, Qena and Sohag.bringing. The overall number of trainees in the three stagesreached 100. 

In this regard, the FAO Regional Office, in collaboration with the country office, provided technical support by transferring the expertise of different countries that have faced the FAW. FAO has also provided the required materials to check the pheromone traps for FAW, along with mobile devices to facilitate the use of appropriate applications to ensure receiving accurate information. 

The program focused on providing information on FAW damages, biology and management, and formulating a vision on how to prevent its penetration and spreading in Egypt. The program also focused on FAO efforts to address the FAW problem, through FAO’s approved program for FAW monitoring and management, in addition to MALR’s efforts to manage the risk of the pest. Finally, this program includes a field training on identification of FAW, damage on host plants and pheromone traps management. 

Representatives from MALR have attended the training, namely Dr. Ali Soliman, adviser to the Minister for Quarantine and Plant Health, and chairman of Sanitary and Phytosanitary committee; Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Megid, Head of Plant Protection Research Institute, and Dr. Mamdouh Sibai, head of the Central Department of Pest Control. 

In collaboration with MALR, FAO organized three training courses for 100 agricultural pest control specialists’ from 8 governorates in southern Egypt to train them on how to prevent the penetration and spreading of FAW in Egypt, as it can negatively affect Egyptian agricultural crops, “ said Hussein Gadain, FAO Representative in Egypt, in his opening speech. 

These training programs raised the trainees’ awareness on FAW, and the importance of exerting every possible effort to carry out the necessary awareness campaigns between farmers and agricultural engineers and all those concerned with combating this pest. FAW is an insect pest that can feed on more than 80 plant species, and affects some of the economically important grain crops. Hence, we face a real threat, and therefore, as an international organization, we call for proactive measures to prevent the penetration and spread of FAW in Egypt,” Gadain continued to add. 

FAW primarily affects maize, rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton. The tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas are the place of origin for that pest. In 2016, it has reached Africa, causing huge losses in maize production in many countries with limited production and food insecurity. Since then, FAW has spread to more than 54 countries within three years because of its high capacity of breeding and flight. 

“The objective of this training is to prepare trainers to train more agricultural specialists on how to face FAW especially after it has reached Sudan near the Egyptian borders, and with the start of maize season in southern Egypt, which increases the risk of pest penetration,” said Dr. Ali Soliman, adviser to the Minister for Quarantine and Plant Health, and chairman of Sanitary and Phytosanitary committee. 

“The Ministry of Agriculture has exerted great efforts during the last two years via the provision of training programs to develop specialists in pest control in the agricultural directorates in southern Egypt governorates, as well as continuing field inspection and the installation of pheromone traps to check FAW,” said Dr. Mamdouh Sibai, head of the Central Department of Pest Control. 

“We must face the risk and take the responsibility entrusted to us in protecting the Egyptian agricultural wealth. Conducting this training despite the hot weather during the Holy month of Ramadan is a solid proof that we are facing a high risk, highlighting and thus cannot postpone this training till after Eid-Al Fitr.” Said Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Megid, Head of Plant Protection Research Institute. 

Dr. Thaer Yassin, Regional Plant protection officer, in FAO-RNE, confirmed that one of the most important things that farmers can do to manage FAW is to inspect their fields and examine the crops systematically and permanently. They should also inform the responsible authorities in case they suspect FAW damage, while following the recommendations of local authorities in managing this pest. This methodology will help small-scale farmers to understand the role of many biological and natural factors in increasing or minimizing the negative impact of FAW and developing innovative and effective ways to manage the pest. Mr. Yassin has also transferred FAO expertise to the trainees, along with short, medium and long-term action plans developed by FAO. Finally, he has also presented lessons learned from other countries that have addressed this serious pest. 

In this case, it is necessary to abandon the habit of overusing pesticides and to adopt an environmental balance approach by using environmentally friendly pesticides. Dr. Ahmed Hussein, Agriculture Specialist (Plant Protection), in FAO-RNE presented the FAMEWS mobile application that is used to collect and transmit data to the farmer which helps in checking for FAW. In this regards, a specific day was chosen to train the specialists on identifying the working mechanism of the application either in filed inspection or when checking the pheromone for FAW. 

FAO has provided many technical and financial assistance to African countries affected by FAW, as it has brought in many experts from South American countries to transfer their expertise in managing the pest. FAO has also provided many technical and scientific data for local governments to take the necessary measures to reduce losses and control the FAW. It is worth noting that FAW infestation in maize crops has caused losses in Africa estimated at $5 billion, threatening the food security and income for more than 300 million African farmers, whose life depend on maize production. 

Through Farmer Field School programs, FAO is currently aiming to train 10 million African farmers to address FAW risks in the upcoming 5 years. 

FAO has created a global platform to provide necessary data to deal with the pest. The platform is connected to an application that can be downloaded on smart mobile devices to help farmers and agricultural specialists to record and monitor data, and share them with other farmers around the world.