Fostering partnerships to combat fall armyworm

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Since 2017, CABI has been heavily involved in the international effort to develop and implement a continental framework for tackling fall armyworm in Africa. Initial meetings resulted in the development of a draft framework, which identified roles for different organisations involved in fall armyworm management globally and on the African continent, including CABI. This has culminated into what has officially become known as the Framework for Partnership for Sustainable Management of the Fall Armyworm in Africa.

Coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the framework guides the development of projects and programmes by stakeholders, according to their areas of competencies with the ultimate goal of enabling farmers to sustainably manage fall armyworm in their fields. CABI has been part of the process, with key partners including representatives from USAID, DFID, IITA, ICIPE, CIMMYT and AGRA, among others, which consolidated all ongoing activities for a coordinated response against fall armyworm in Africa. A recent partners meeting in Rome, reviewed next steps and future goals, acknowledging both the immediate needs of high-risk vulnerable farmers and the investment that might be needed for long-term research and scaling up of proven solutions.

The framework is divided into six components:

  1. Management of Fall Armyworm: Farmer Education and Communications
  2. Testing and Validation of Fall Armyworm Management Practices
  3. Monitoring, Risk Assessment and Early Warning
  4. Longer-term Research and Innovations
  5. Policy and Regulatory Support
  6. Coordination

To facilitate the coordination, FAO established twelve Technical Working Groups, which bring together experts from relevant national, regional and international organisations to share, review, discuss, prioritise and develop joint work plans and proposals. The Technical Working Groups directly support the six components of the framework, and have created a forum which enables active and dynamic dialogue for diverse groups of researchers, experts, practitioners, and policy makers. The overall aim of the Technical Working Groups is to provide coherent advisory support on the fall armyworm response and includes specific objectives such as facilitating sharing of information, discussing current work, harmonising approaches and identifying knowledge gaps to recommend research priorities, all of which informs the design of more effective programmes.

CABI leads the Technical Working Group on Communications, Awareness & Knowledge Management, and is also involved in several other groups, bringing on board the expertise of staff from the CABI centres in Africa, Switzerland, UK and USA.

Several of CABI’s programmes are already contributing to implementation of the framework including Plantwise, Action on Invasives, and the Pest Risk Information Service. Together with other organisations, CABI is also a partner in the US-funded initiative on community based fall armyworm monitoring, forecasting and early warning project in East Africa, and in the fall armyworm programme under the African Development Bank’s Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT) initiative. However, further support is needed to scale up the activities in more high-risk and vulnerable areas.

CABI remains committed to a coherent and coordinated approach for fall armyworm management in Africa. This must include making sure farmers can apply the best available advice in the short term, while research is undertaken to develop additional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for sustainable management of fall armyworm in Africa.

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