African development Bank (AfDB) has pledged ksh 950 million (USD9.5 million) towards the management of Fall Army Worms (FAW) in Africa.
The Bank’s regional sector manager for East Africa Joseph Coompson, AfDB said that Africa is already spending millions of dollars in an effort to taming the spread of the pest.
“African countries lost over 6.2 billion US dollars, 50% to53% of crop loss last year due to the invasion by this alien pest,” Coompson said.
Coompson was speaking on Thursday during a high-level partnership meeting to develop an action plan to deploy proven technologies against the highly destructive Fall Armyworm (FAW) to smallholder farmers in East Africa in Nairobi.
He told researchers in the public and private sector to introduce their management technologies to combat FAW arguing that the invasion was a test of partnership in the continent.
Project Coordinator for Technologies from International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for the African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme Chrys Akem said that the amount will be disbursed to African countries to help tame the spread of the pest.
“All the affected countries are expected to develop an action plan on how to deploy proven technologies against the destructive FAW,” Akemsaid.
He said that the initiative is part of the banks FAW compact support that is aimed at mobilising support from “The compact seeks to identify new technologies to combat the pest and rapidly deploy them to smallholder farmers across the continent,” he added.
He observed that all the countries are expected to identify their own options of managing the pest and have others borrow it once proven to be effective.
“This initiative is supposed to be a trans-boundary effort given that the pest is a trans-boundary problem”, Akem noted.
He added that all the efforts put in place by farmers towards maize farming is likely to go to waste if the pest is not confronted through partnerships.
FAW Compact leader from IITA, Peter Chinwada, said it was important that the initiative will take stock of available technological options and ongoing interventions by various partners.
This, Chinwada added will also help identify options on financing delivery of the proven technological options and look for necessary policy and regulatory framework reforms to allow for registration of these technologies across the region.
“We plan to sign agreements with all stakeholders for concerted action to achieve quick wins in the war against FAW,” he added.
Fall Armyworm, is an insect that is native in tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. In its larval stage, it can cause significant damage to crops, if not well managed. The caterpillar prefers maize but can feed on more than 80 additional species of plants including rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton.
Kenya and other maize producing countries in Africa had up to 50percent of their annual maize crop destroyed last year by the FAW but the pest is also known to feed on over 80 additional species including vegetable crops, cotton, sorghum, millet and even sugarcane.