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Sierra Leone News: FAO needs $23m to scale up Fall Armyworm campaign

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has yesterday made a call for $23million USD for a massive scaling up of the Fall Armyworm campaign to train more than 500,000 farmers in 2018 to manage the pest through Farmer Field Schools in sub-Saharan Africa.
In a statement issued by the agency, it stated that Fall Armyworm keeps spreading to larger areas within countries in sub-Saharan Africa and becomes more destructive as it feeds on more crops and different parts of crops, increasingly growing an appetite for sorghum and millet, in addition to maize.
The FAO has warned that the pest could spread to Northern Africa, Southern Europe and the Near East. To date, FAO has invested more than $9 million from its regular budget, and mobilized $12 million USD for its Fall Armyworm programmes.
“Fall Armyworm could leave 300 million people hungry in sub-Saharan Africa, having already infested maize and sorghum fields across 44 countries in an area of more than 22 million square kilometres – the combined area of the European Union, Australia and the United States,” said BukarTijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa on the sidelines of a resource partners’ meeting in Rome. “We are particularly concerned about the disastrous impact the pest can have on countries already facing crises.”
The pest first appeared in Africa in 2016, in West Africa. By today, it has quickly spread across sub-Saharan Africa, leaving now only 10 countries (mostly in northern Africa) not infested.
“Despite significant contributions from resource partners and governments, there is still a significant financial gap. While we commend contributions made by a wide range of resource partners, including from those African countries affected by the pest, there is a need to urgently fill a critical gap of $23 million to allow FAO effectively support countries in addressing Fall Armyworm challenges in 2018,” Tijani said.
Smallholders, representing almost all of the tens of millions of maize farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, are worst affected by Fall Armyworm, and any further damage inflicted by the pest would have drastic consequences on their lives.
More than 30 FAO-supported projects are rolled out across the continent to fight the pest. These include training 20 000 farmers and frontline extension workers to date as part of FAO’s Farmer Field Schools to recognize and report Fall Armyworm infestations and use mechanical control, such as crushing of the pest by hand, and apply bio-pesticides (neem, tobacco plants) and natural enemies (ants) to destroy the pest.
FAO also provides technical and policy advice on pesticide management and is involved in monitoring the use of chemical insecticides.
FAO took immediate steps as soon as FAW was detected in Africa, including: bringing together experts to share knowledge and experiences on sustainable Fall Armyworm management; developing tools (farmers’ manual, mobile apps, web-platform, FAWRisk-Map) to build better warning, monitoring and response mechanisms; and supporting countries to mitigate pest damage, develop action plans and policies, and train extension workers and farmers.
ZJ/28/6/18
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Tuesday July 03, 2018.

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