FAO joins panel of experts to share knowledge in tackling the Fall Armyworm threat in Africa

FAO joins panel of experts to share knowledge in tackling the Fall Armyworm threat in Africa


An Experts’ meeting to discuss the Fall Armyworm (FAW) which is infesting maize and other crops across Africa is taking place in Accra, Ghana, to exchange current knowledge and best practices on how best to manage FAW. The three-day meeting brings together world leading experts on FAW from across Africa and the Americas, where farmers and researchers have been managing and studying the pest for many years.

“If farmers are able to identify and manage the Fall Armyworm early enough, then yield loss can be reduced with minimal environmental consequences,” said Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa. “We are here to support the identification and implementation of practical options for sustainable pest management to reduce the risk of food insecurity of millions of people in Africa who depend on maize and other crops”, he added.

According to Hans Dreyer, Director of the Plant Production and Protection Division in FAO headquarters, it is imperative to share knowledge in dealing with the Fall Armyworm and particularly to build the capacity of farmers to identify the pest and manage it on their farms. “We have to make sure the farmer is able to manage the pest and it is our responsibility to assist them to understand it and take the right decisions,” Dreyer pointed out. “The pest doesn't cause damage to only maize, it can infest rice, sorghum and sugarcane, and is known to spread very quickly; therefore, African countries growing these crops should be mindful of the pest to help control its spread”, he emphasized.

The experts will discuss and make recommendations that are beneficial to smallholder family farmers and this information will be included in the design of curricula for FAO Farmer Field Schools (FFS).

FAO and partners’ response to FAW

FAO is supporting countries in their response to the threat of FAW in Africa through workshops to raise awareness and develop action plans. As FAW is a new pest to the African continent, little is known so far regarding its behaviour in the new environment. While awaiting results from research, FAO believes that the expertise and knowledge gained from relevant sources can be adapted to Africa. Over time, the Americas have developed knowledge, good practices, innovative policies and technologies that have huge potential to be shared and adapted in Africa.

Based on an action plan developed during stakeholder meeting held in Nairobi in April 2017, FAO developed a framework consisting of the following components: sustainable management options, including surveillance and early warning, impact assessment, communication and awareness, and coordination. Focus of the meeting has been on avoiding overuse of dangerous pesticides and maximizing the potential for natural biological control.

FAO considers the meeting as the beginning of a long-term multidisciplinary South-South Cooperation (SSC) effort on FAW, and potentially on other production constraints. FAO has a long and vast experience in SSC and this meeting aims at deepening partnership to fully integrate experience from the Americas in the long-term management of FAW in Africa.

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