The Fall Armyworm (FAW) pest is a serious threat to food security in Africa, potentially causing loss of 8.3 to 20.6 million tons of maize per year if uncontrolled. FAW not only affects production of a staple food crop in the East Africa region, but also undermines the economic viability of Africa’s emerging private seed sector.
The East Africa Community (EAC), supported by USAID and Africa Lead convened a regional stakeholders’ workshop on combating the FAW on 17 – 18 September in Nairobi. With 60 delegates from EAC partner states in attendance, the main objectives of the workshop were to: take stock of the status of FAW management efforts and practices in the region; identify critical challenges and limitations in existing FAW action plans; and identify priority strategic actions to enhance FAW interventions within the EAC. Others in attendance included USAID representatives from bilateral and regional missions, the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the EAC Secretariat, and other organizations involved in combating FAW in the region.
In his remarks during the workshop’s opening session, Michael Nicholson, Deputy Chief of USAID Kenya/East Africa’s Office for Economic Growth and Integration (OEGI), thanked the delegates for recognizing the importance and urgency in addressing FAW in the region. “This workshop is the right platform to bring all you stakeholders in the region’s food security and agriculture together to explore and agree on the necessary interventions to stop FAW from causing further damage across the African continent,” he said.
The structure of the workshop included country-level group work sessions, plenary sessions, and panel discussions. In the course of the workshop delegates noted that while some progress has been made in tackling FAW in the region, more efforts are required to develop and implement a coordinated and evidence-based trans-boundary approach for FAW control in the region. It was also noted that capacity for FAW scouting, surveillance, and effective monitoring at the farm, country, regional, and continental levels are still low, and that sharing of lessons and best practices on prevention and response to FAW is limited.
“While the joint and concerted efforts by various institutions […] to mitigate and find solutions to the FAW have been impactful, and duly noted by the EAC, there is still need for improved coordination by all partners within the region to act as a pivot in our regional approach [to] be more efficient, swift, effective, and beneficial to not only this region, but the rest of the continent,” said Christophe Bazivamo, Deputy Secretary-General of the East African Community in charge of Productive and Social Sectors.
At the conclusion of the workshop, the EAC Secretariat, partner states, and development partners agreed to prioritize the development of an EAC regional action plan on FAW by March 2019, to harmonize protocols, methodologies, and policies applicable to FAW management and control, and to strengthen coordination, networking, and information sharing in the region. As a follow-up to the workshop, the EAC Secretariat shall convene a multi-stakeholder meeting with technical partners involved in combating FAW to fast track execution of the identified priorities by March 2019.