Briefing note on FAO actions on Fall Armyworm in Africa

Briefing note on FAO actions on Fall Armyworm in Africa
Jan 2018

FAO has taken and is taking several actions in response to Fall Armyworm:

  1. FAO projects: Since the onset of FAW, FAO has undertaken several actions to strengthen African countries’ capacities to respond to FAW through Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) projects and other funding mechanisms. So far, as of January 2018, a total of 28 FAW projects (11TCPfs and 17 fully fledged TCPs) have been approved totaling USD 6,704,000. An additional FAW pipeline project with a budget of USD 344,000 is being reviewed for funding by RAF. An additional FAW pipeline project with a budget of USD 344,000 is being reviewed for funding. These projects aim to provide awareness raising, sensitization and strengthening of pesticide management capacity at the producer level, strengthening capacity on early identification of FAW, efficient pesticide application and best practices, and the restoring of productive capacity. Japan supported South Sudan with USD 3m through FAO and WFP to support local authorities and farmers in controlling FAW. An FAO OFDA funded project of USD 944,000 is being implemented in East African countries to support the establishment of a community based FAW monitoring, forecasting, early warning, and management system. Ireland supported Kenya and Ethiopia with a USD 500,000 FAO project.
  2. FAW Experts Meeting: FAO organized a South-South Cooperation FAW Technical Experts’ Meeting in Accra, Ghana from 18-20 July bringing together experts from the Americas, Africa, and others, to share and update the state of knowledge on sustainable FAW management for smallholder family farmers. The experts reviewed key areas of management, including biological control, monitoring, economic thresholds, bio-insecticides use, and the impact of plant biodiversity on FAW ecology. A synthesis report of the meeting has been prepared and shared with partners and can be found on FAO Food Chain Crisis website.
  3. FAW early warning system development: FAO IT-Solutions has developed a mobile phone app (FAMEWS) to be used by farmers, community focal persons and extension agents to collect data when scouting fields and checking pheromone traps. FAMEWS will incorporate a tool to diagnose FAW damage and will be linked to a web-based early warning platform. FAO has identified several vendors that will be pre-qualified to ensure rapid delivery of high quality traps and lures. Innovative technologies are being considered to monitor FAW and diagnose damage using drones, remote sensing, artificial intelligence learning, and Google Earth Engine.
  4. Farmers Field Schools (FFS) and training of rural advisory services and farmers: FAO has facilitated the preparation of a FFS field guide on Integrated Pest Management for FAW to which FFS Master Trainers and many research institutions contributed. Training topics cover FAW identification, FAW biology and ecology; plant diversity, soil health management and other preventative measures to reduce infestation and help plants withstand damage to minimize yield loss; early scouting; mechanical controls; use of botanical pesticides, biopesticides and biological control agents; pesticide risk reduction; community monitoring and surveillance; and more. Training of FFS Master Trainers and experienced practitioners has taken place in all sub-regions of Sub-Saharan Africa through 5 regional training workshops. Additional regional training of FFS Master Trainers are planned for the first semester of 2018. National-level trainings of FFS facilitators have been held in many countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, so that FFS can be rolled out through thousands of FFS implemented by FAO, Governments, extension services, farmer organizations and their financial and technical partners. In addition to FFS, trained FFS facilitators, who are often government rural advisors/extension agents, can also conduct 1-2 day field courses for farmers, to reach rural communities rapidly. Information sharing mechanisms have also been established including a FAW webpage on the Global FFS Platform and an active whatsapp group of FFS trainers across Africa.
  5. FAW risk assessment and modelling: FAO and DFID are co-organizing a workshop on 2 February 2018 to assess the risk of household food insecurity due to FAW in Africa.
  6. FAO technical working groups coordinated by FAO: Eleven technical working groups coordinated by FAO were formed, each led by the appropriate institute/organization; namely, biological control; bio-pesticides; synthetic chemical pesticides; monitoring and early warning; communication, awareness and knowledge management; farmer field schools, extension, plant clinics; agro-ecology; impact assessment; conventional host plant resistance; transgenic resistance; quarantine and phytosanitary measures. Most groups have developed their priorities and results are presented in the regular coordination teleconferences. The TWGs will prepare action plans for 2018.
  7. A side event on FAW status in Africa and the way forward took place during the FAO Conference on 4 July 2017. The event panel gathered Ministers of Agriculture from Zimbabwe and South Africa, Deputy Minister of Ghana, Ambassador of the UK, and Director of DFID Africa.
  8. Technical Guidance Notes, Q&A, regular updates, maps, reports, guides, key messages, etc… on FAW are regularly posted on the FAO Food Chain Crisis website.