The African Union (AU) has said it is very concerned that the Fall Armyworm is likely to worsen the stress faced by millions of families suffering from food shortages as a result of the droughts, especially in eastern and southern Africa.
Feeding on maize and other crops such as rice, sorghum, cassava, which are key staples in most African countries, the pest has been reported in more than 25 countries across the continent, and it is still spreading, the pan-African bloc noted.
A press conference on infestation of Fall Armyworm was organized on Friday at the AU Headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, to brief the African continent on the gravity of the situation presented by the pest and measures taken in connection with the infestation.
Speaking on the occasion, Quartey Kwesi Thomas, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, noted that the food security situation in most African countries would be greatly compromised if the pest is not well managed to control its spreading.
“The AU Commission is determined to do everything possible to work with the regional economic communities to support our member states to understand the nature of the Fall Armyworm and how to manage and control it so that its impact is minimized,” he said.
“To do this, the AU Commission is calling upon everyone to join hands with us in the fight against this devastating pest,” said the Deputy Chairperson.
Underlining the need to have accurate information on the pest and the measures to be taken to control it, he also called on development partners to provide financial support in generating for knowledge on the Fall Armyworm and in the efforts to mobilize African leaders to fight the pest.
“For the commission to be effective in fulfilling its mandates, we need to receive regular and accurate information from technical organizations on the spread of the pest and its impact on crop yields and measures being taken to control it,” he said.
In her remarks on the occasion, Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, noted on her part that AU is very concerned about the impact the pest would have on food production, food security, farmer incomes and regional trade.
The Commissioner stated that the AU Commission is taking leadership to raise awareness among AU heads of states, and ministers responsible for agriculture using the different platforms at continental and regional levels.
“We are concerned that the impact of this pest will further increase the stress brought about by recent droughts, especially in Eastern and Southern Africa, where most countries have report the FAW (Fall Armyworm),” she said. Endtem