South-South and Triangular Cooperation

Tackling Fall Armyworm. Sharing knowledge through South-South and Triangular Cooperation

09/04/2020 - 

Fall Armyworm (FAW) (Spodoptera frugiperda), is an insect pest affecting more than 80 plant species, causing damage to economically important cultivated cereals such as maize, rice, sorghum, as well as vegetable crops and cotton. It is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. It is the larval stage of the insect that causes the damage. FAW reproduces at a rate of several generations per year, and the moth can fly up to 100 km per night.

Over the past three years, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), has led 63 Fall Armyworm-related projects, mostly in Africa. 

In addition, following to the request of the FAO Regional Office for Africa (RAF), for the support of the Office of South-South and Triangular Cooperation (OSS), a series of webinars were organized to raise awareness and provide capacity development on tools for the monitoring and early warning of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) in Africa, to facilitate the sharing of knowledge through South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC).

SSTC is fundamental to both FAO and its member countries, as an essential tool by which the Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved. Countries of the Global South have a lot to share, given their commonalities in overcoming development challenges, such as the FAW. 

"We will need to step up the alliance among key partners from all relevant sectors at the global level," FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said on 27 February 2020, while opening the first meeting of the Steering Committee of the Global action for Fall Armyworm Control.


Two webinar series were organized, on the Fall Armyworm Monitoring and Early Warning System (FAMEWS) mobile app and the FAW Risk Model and Map (FAWRisk-Map). This joint effort was the result of a fruitful collaboration among FAO Strategic Programmes and Technical Divisions, namely the Plant Production and Protection Division (AGP), Emergency and Resilience Division (PSE), Resilience Programme Management Team (SP5), OSS, and the Regional Office for Africa (RAF).

The first series consisted of sessions specifically designed for each of the four FAO sub-regional offices for Africa. The sessions were presented in English and French, and reached more than 100 participants. Having speakers and moderators from the field substantially enriched the webinars. Armed with knowledge of the situation in their own sub-region, colleagues were able to explain in depth about the opportunities that the FAMEWS can offer for each sub-region for FAW monitoring and early warning. The second series was divided in two sessions, in English and French, and reached more than 70 participants.

FAMEWS is a tool for recording and sending data collected every time a farmer, community focal person or agriculture extension agent checks a field or pheromone traps for FAW. The app currently works on any low-cost smartphone and is available in more than twenty languages, while other translations for other local languages are under development.  Widespread and regular use of the tool helps to monitor the presence of FAW and changes in its distribution at the local, district, national and regional levels. The data is then validated by nationally-designated FAW Focal Points in each country before it is used for mapping and analysis on a centralized Africa-wide web platform.  Similar to the mobile app, the global platform is designed to expand with the evolving needs of farmers, analysts and decision-makers. It is freely accessible by the global community through the FAO Fall Armyworm home page.

Since February 2020, FAMEWS is available on the Google Play Store and, to date, has been downloaded more than one thousand times.

The two tools are connected as the FAW prevalence data collected via FAMEWS also feeds the FAWRisk Index, which determines the risk of food insecurity due to FAW infestations at admin 2 level in Africa. This risk is calculated as being the product of two factors: exposure of the FAW on one side, and the vulnerability and lack of capacity of the population and the Government to cope with the pest on the other side.

The results are then represented on the FAWRisk-Map, which allows to visualize the areas where the risk is the highest. The map is useful for partners at all levels (global to local) for decision-making, planning and implementation of FAW prevention and control measures. This map will be updated in 2020. 

A FAW impact assessment was conducted during the 2018-2019 long rainy season in 12 districts of Tanzania. An innovative methodology was used, consisting of a household survey, a scouting survey in maize fields and a crop-cutting experiment. A linear regression model was then used to model the yield and attribute yield losses to FAW.

The South-South Cooperation component of the FAMEWS mobile app tool emphasizes that information is collected by farmers, communities, extension services, Farmer Field Schools, NGOs and others, who are engaged in knowledge sharing with neighboring regions, districts and countries. This creates an opportunity for countries from the Global South to be warned on how the pest is spreading and take appropriate action.

Please find here the website with all of the webinar recordings.