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Food Chain Crisis

FCC-EMPRES Information Sheet

This section introduces FCC–EMPRES core activities through successful programs and initiatives that illustrate FAO’s role in supporting member countries to prevent, prepare and respond to transboundary, high impact animal and plant pests and diseases and food safety threats.
A series of information sheets showcases what FAO has introduced and developed, what it has improved and, most of all, what it has achieved in prevention, preparedness, and response to emergencies affecting the food chain.

Locusts and grasshoppers are a serious threat to agriculture, including pastures and rangelands, in Caucasus and Central Asia, where more than 25 million hectares are concerned. During outbreaks, the three main locust pests, the Asian Migratory Locust (Locusta migratoria migratoria), the Italian Locust (Calliptamus italicus) and the Moroccan Locust (Dociostaurus maroccanus), attack all kinds of crops and natural vegetation and jeopardise food security and livelihoods of at least 20 million people. The most affected populations are the most vulnerable rural communities, whose health and environment can moreover suffer from adverse impacts of locust control operations.

To reduce the occurrence and intensity of locust outbreaks, FAO has been implementing a regional “Programme to improve national and regional locust management in Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA)” since 2011.

Pine dieback, caused by bark beetles, is severely damaging Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in Belarus and Ukraine. Bark beetles usually attack dead or dying trees and serve as primary decomposers. However, under stressful conditions, such as drought or high tree density, they can attack and destroy healthy trees in large numbers, overcoming tree defenses. To face this situation, FAO is providing technical assistance for combating the dieback of pine forests using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies.

African swine fever (ASF) is a contagious viral disease that causes a haemorrhagic fever in domestic pigs and wild boar.  It is characterised by high fever, internal haemorrhage and multiple organ failure with a lethality that approaches 100 percent. ASF is currently widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Russian Federation and the Italian island of Sardinia. Its arrival in the Caucasus in 2007 and its progressive advance through the Russian Federation into Eastern Europe, where it now seems established, demonstrated the high potential for transboundary spread of ASF. In August 2018, China reported the occurrence of ASF for the very first time.

Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) caused by the virus named Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) is listed among the world’s worst 100 invasive species. BBTD is currently a major threat to banana cultivation in sub-Saharan Africa, and a menace for over 100 million people for whom banana is the major staple food.

FAO has been supporting countries in their efforts to control BBTD through awareness raising, farmer training and capacity building in various areas such as surveillance, diagnosis, prevention and integrated disease management.

The Mediterranean fruit fly (or medfly), Ceratitis capitata Wied., is considered a major agricultural pest worldwide because of its direct damage to fruit and vegetable production, and restrictions imposed to commercialization of horticultural commodities by countries free of the pest. The presence of this pest was officially reported in the Dominican Republic in March 2015. IAEA, FAO and USDA immediately joined hands to assist the country in establishing a national monitoring network to delimit the distribution of the outbreak and initiate an eradication campaign with support from the Guatemala, Mexico, USA Moscamed Programme and regional organizations. In July 2017, the Caribbean country declared officially that it is free of the invasive pest, only two years after an outbreak led to considerable damage to its agricultural industry.

Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is one of the most contagious transboundary animal diseases (TADs). FMD is still widespread throughout the world. It still occurs in large parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia and the countries that are free of FMD today remains under constant threat of an incursion. The disease is well-known for its ability to severely affect and indeed disrupt regional and international trade in animals and animal products. It is also notorious for the enormous financial damage it can cause in FMD-free countries hit by an outbreak. FAO and and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) developed a 15-year global control strategy in 2012 to reduce the burden of FMD in endemic countries and maintain the status of FMD-free countries.

Fall Armyworm (FAW) (Spodoptera frugiperda), is an insect pest of more than 80 plant species, causing damage to economically important cultivated cereals such as maize, rice, sorghum, and also to vegetable crops and cotton. FAO and its partners have been at the forefront of tackling FAW and continue to support prevention, early warning, and effective response. This information sheet presents a critical tool of the FAO’s sustainable management programme for FAW in Africa, which is the FAW Monitoring and Early Warning System (FAMEWS) mobile app. Data from the app provides valuable insights on how the insect populations change over time with ecology, to improve knowledge of its behaviour in Africa and guide best management.

Rabies is a preventable and fatal viral disease that kills an estimated 59 000 people every year. The virus is transmitted to people and other animals from exposure to the saliva of infected animals through bites and scratches. Most deaths occur in children in poor and rural communities living in Asia and Africa, where awareness about the disease and access to human and dog vaccines is limited. As a result, dog-mediated rabies is still present in over 150 countries, and its true burden is much higher than what is reported as many cases are not recognized or recorded. This underreporting of rabies cases in animals and humans remains the main reason for the lack of reliable data on the number of rabies cases and their impact on communities and society as a whole.

Fusarium Wilt Disease is caused by the soil-borne fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense and is one of the most destructive diseases of banana worldwide. Its new race Tropical Race 4 (Foc TR4) has been causing serious losses in Southeast Asia and severely affecting livelihoods of small producers. It has recently spread to Africa (Mozambique) and some countries of the Middle East. This is raising concerns that it might also spread to the Indian Sub-continent and Latin America.

The livestock sector in Mongolia is the main pillar of the rural economy, contributing to 16 percent of the national GDP and providing livelihoods for 30 percent of its population. However, over the decades, the livestock industry has been confronted by occasional flare-ups of transboundary animal diseases (TADs).

Through their Joint Division, support from FAO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) enabled Mongolia to strengthen capacities in controlling animal diseases, especially transboundary diseases, by boosting research on safe nuclear and nuclear-derived techniques for diagnosis for quicker detection of the disease, training personnel on these techniques, and providing equipment and expert services.

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