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Briefing note on FAO actions on Fall Armyworm in Africa

Briefing note on FAO actions on Fall Armyworm in Africa
Oct 2017

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

  1. FAO projects: Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) projects on FAW management are ongoing in Central Africa (Sao Tomé and Principe, since July 2016 and Democratic Republic of Congo, since March 2017). In response to the request of many countries, FAO developed and approved the funding of many more TCP projects: in August-September 2017 projects started in Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan; 3 more have been launched this month in Chad, Kenya and Zimbabwe. A TCP project in support of the African Union Commission Rural Economy and Agriculture Department was signed on 6 October in Addis Ababa on the margins of the 2nd AU Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment (STC) Conference. Another 13 countries will also benefit soon from TCP projects or facilities. The total budget allocated so far since August 2017 for these 23 new projects or facilities amounts to USD 6,080,000. Additional TCP funds will be allocated in the coming weeks to support more countries. An FAO OFDA-funded project of USD 944,000 has started in East African countries to support the establishment of a community based FAW monitoring, forecasting, early warning and management system. An inter-regional TCP for Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and Near East is being prepared covering information sharing, monitoring and early warning, and preventive measures.
  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, use of bio-insecticides, 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 here.
  3. Farmers Field School (FFS) Curriculum Development: Taking advantage of the experts’ meeting, FAO brought together FFS Master Trainers from across Africa to work with researchers to draft an FFS curriculum on Integrated Pest Management for FAW. This is being used to train additional FFS trainers, and roll-out the FAW component in FFS in affected African countries. Training topics cover FAW identification, life cycle and behaviour; preventative measures to reduce infestation and help plants withstand damage to minimize yield loss; early scouting; mechanical controls; use of botanical pesticides and biological control agents; pesticide risk reduction; monitoring and surveillance, and more. The curriculum consists of practical experiments, field studies and exercises that can be implemented with extension workers and farmers throughout a season-long FFS. A Training Guide for the Integrated Management of the FAW on maize in Africa has been finalized based on the Curriculum developed. Training of FFS Master Trainers is taking place in the whole of Africa: the first sub-regional training has taken place in Nigeria for Western Africa then in Malawi for Southern Africa in September 2017, and in Cameroon for Central Africa in October 2017. Training of FFS Master Trainers will be organized shortly in other sub-regions of Africa, so that FFS can be rolled out through thousands of Farmer Field Schools implemented by FAO, Governments, extension services, farmer organizations and their financial and technical partners. The curricula will also be useful for short training of agricultural advisers and for village rallies.
  4. South-South Cooperation: Further to the Experts’ meeting organized in Accra in July 2017, a letter of Agreement between FAO and EMBRAPA (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation) will be signed as South South Cooperation for capacity development of selected African Universities in the areas of biological control and local production of biological control agents. Experts from EMBRAPA with experience in FAW will carry out the training and capacity development.
  5. FAW technical working groups coordinated by FAO: Ten technical working groups coordinated by FAO were formed each led by the appropriate institute/organization; biological control; bio-pesticides; synthetic chemical pesticides; monitoring and early warning; communication, awareness and knowledge management; farmer field schools, extension, plant clinics; agroecology; impact assessment; host plant resistance; quarantine and phytosanitary measures.
  6. FAW early warning system development: FAO IT-Solutions is developing field tools such as a mobile phone app, databases and a web-based early warning platform. Several partners are investigating the efficacy of different pheromone traps and lures in the field. The results will be used to standardize traps and lures and facilitate their procurement. Innovative technologies are being considered to monitor FAW and damage using drones, remote sensing and Google Earth Engine.
  7. FAW impact assessment: FAO is working closely with CIMMYT and CABI, and has taken a leading role in formulating initial actions for impact monitoring and has been supporting assessment processes in Southern Africa. FAO is now working to deepen coordination and partnership on impact monitoring with CABI and CIMMYT at the continental level.
  8. A side event on FAW status in Africa and way forward has taken place during FAO Conference on 4 July 2017. The panel of the event gathered Ministers of Agriculture of Zimbabwe and South Africa, Deputy Minister of Ghana, Ambassador of the UK and Director of DFID Africa.
  9. An Advisory Note, Q&A and Key FAO messages on FAW were prepared in addition to two notes on FAO position on the use of pesticides and Genetically Modified (GM) maize and widely shared within FAO HQ and Decentralized offices in Africa. All notes are posted on the FAO Food Chain Crisis website.