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2018-06-03T11:45:00.0000000Z
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Minimising further insect pest invasions in Africa

SciDevNet
https://www.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/agriculture/opinion/insect-pests-invasions-in-africa.html

Speed read

  • Fall armyworm, an invasive pest, has since 2016 invaded most African nations
  • But tackling insect pests on the continent has largely been reactive
  • Africa should take proactive approaches including setting up an emergency fund

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) recently offered prize money for the best and digital tools that can be used to help combat the fall armyworm (FAW), an invasive pest that has spread across Africa. The winners will be announced in the coming months.

Identified in over 35 African countries since 2016, the FAW is expected to continue to spread, threatening food security and agricultural trade in African countries.

But this is not the first invasive pest the African continent is dealing with. Just a few years ago, African smallholder farmers battled the invasive South American tomato moth, Tuta absoluta. According to recent research, five invasive insect pests including T. absoluta cost the African continent US$ 1.1 billion every year.

Around the world, invasive pests are causing US$540 billion in economic losses to agriculture each year despite the fact that many countries are doing their best to prevent insect invasions now and into the future.

Tackling invasive pests reactively

To deal with invasive insects, African countries assisted by other stakeholders including aid agencies such as the USAID, research institutions such as the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology, the Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI, the parent organization of SciDev.Net) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) have repeatedly taken the reactive rather than a proactive approach in tackling the invasive pests only after they have established a foothold and caused considerable damage.

Ghana, for example, established a National Taskforce to control and manage FAW after the worms had invaded local fields. This taskforce mandate includes sensitising farmers and making them aware of the symptoms of armyworm attacks so they can report infestations to authorities and undertaking research aimed at finding short and long term solutions to combat the spread of FAW.

Africa
CABI
Fall_armyworm
USAID
International_Center_for_Insect_Physiology_and_Ecology
INCIPE
UNFAO

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