An upsurge in cross border crop and livestock pests is bringing together role players in Southern Africa to enhance preparedness.
A three day regional meeting that started on 14 February is currently underway in Harare, Zimbabwe, where increased investment in the preparedness and response capacities to new and endemic threats in Southern Africa are discussed, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said in a recent press release.
Several countries were caught off guard with the invasion of the alien fall armyworm that has lead to serious crop damage in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa and Namibia.
“Outbreaks of transboundary crop pests and animal diseases in Southern Africa and the magnitude of their impact should provide benchmarks upon which the region should mirror itself regarding its early warning, preparedness and response capacity,” said David Phiri, FAO sub regional coordinator for the Southern African region.
Other pests and diseases that poses a threat to agriculture in the region include the red and migratory locusts, the tomato leaf miner and maize lethal necrosis especially to subsistance farmers, the FAO said
Another serious concern is the possible spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza, with cases already confirmed in Egypt, Nigeria and Uganda.
The region is still recuperating after the serious drought that paralyzed the agricultural sector and led to famine in several countries, and the spread of several pests is a serious blow to recovery efforts.
During the meeting integrated action plans would be set up to improve preparedness and response to these threats from shared information, experiences and knowledge.
The meeting was convened by the FAO in collaboration with the Southern Africa Development Community and the International Red Locust Control Organization for Central en Southern Africa and brought together delegates from southern and eastern Africa,. The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, United States Agency for International Development and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development funded the event.