Invasives Blog

A new CABI-led study is recommending that a coordinating body is established to help improve weaknesses in Bangladesh’s Invasive Alien Species (IAS) system to facilitate engagement between all actors involved in IAS management – from trade to human health.

The findings, published in ‘CABI Working Paper 28: An assessment of the invasive species system in Bangladesh,’ reveal that the current invasive species system in Bangladesh has some strengths but that challenges to the system remain.

A broad range of actors are aware of the need for invasive species management and one example of a positive response to IAS was the rapid establishment of a National Task Force (NFT) which sought to tackle fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) when it was first spotted in the country in 2018.

However, the absence of a regulated pest list, monitoring and evaluation limitations, and a severe lack of training and resources are among the weaknesses of the system which also include greater support needed for the implementation of policies and regulations that govern the way IAS are managed – as well as improving the linkages between various actors and organisations.

As well as the fall armyworm (FAW), Bangladesh has around 148 other IAS present in the country. This includes a high proportion of introduced Invasive Alien Plant (IAP) species, for example Acacia auriculiformis and Eucalyptus camaldulensis, deliberately introduced into forest ecosystems. Pontederia crassipes and Salvinia molesta impacting on inland water bodies as well as introduced fish species such as Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) that compete with native fish species for food. However, although economic losses to the agricultural sector are well documented, to date a reliable estimate of country level losses is unavailable.

The impact of the Fall Armyworm’s presence in the ASEAN region will be considerable. Estimates using 10% crop damage across ASEAN maize crops indicates an annual US$884 million cost. Both in lost farmer income and as buyers are forced to import maize.

As a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Bangladesh has committed to implementing resolutions related to the convention. These includes – under its National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan – finding ways to mitigate the impacts of a range of Invasive Alien Plant (IAP) species such as Lantana camara, Convolvulus arvensis and Ipomoea carnea – otherwise known as pink morning glory.

Kate Constantine, lead author of the working paper, said, “There are a broad range of actors with high levels of expertise working very hard to mitigate Invasive Alien Species in Bangladesh and there is a willingness to collaborate when faced with a new IAS.

“However, although there are existing policies and regulations that govern the way IAS management is delivered, at the implementation level they are not well executed and this limits the effective delivery of IAS prevention, detection and control.

“Furthermore, there is a focus on addressing crop pests but a lack of attention towards environmental weeds.”

The researchers highlight that Bangladesh imports a lot of produce to meet the country’s growing food security needs but that its phytosanitary measures need improvement to prevent IAS entering the country and impacting upon the food value chain.

Co-author, Dr Malvika Chaudhary, said, “Greater access to diagnostic laboratories, with highly trained technical staff, would allow for rapid analysis and identification of potential Invasive Alien Species, and ensure quality control.

“The Plant Quarantine Wing of the National Agricultural Research System should also then be empowered to conduct pest risk assessments – using the latest digital tools – in order to strengthen the system.

“Alongside increased capacity building at the field level, and greater policy support at the implementation level, there is the potential for the invasive species system in Bangladesh to be significantly strengthened and increasingly proactive in response to and management of IAS.”

The study also suggests that the NTF – created to tackle FAW – demonstrates what a coordinating body, to help bring together various actors and ensure collaborative working, could look like and what these combined efforts can achieve.

Additional information

Main image: Scouting maize for fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in Bangladesh (Credit: FAO, Bangladesh, used with permission).

Reference

Constantine, K., Chaudhary, M. and Williams, F. (2022) An assessment of the invasive species system in Bangladesh. CABI Working Paper 28, 22 pp. DOI: 10.1079/CABICOMM-62-8166

You can read the paper in full here: https://www.cabi.org/cabi-publications/an-assessment-of-the-invasive-species-system-in-bangladesh/

Acknowledgement

The working paper has been developed as part of CABI’s Action on Invasives programme, which is funded by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Netherlands Directorate-General for International Cooperation.

CABI is an international intergovernmental organization, and we gratefully acknowledge the core financial support from our member countries (and lead agencies), including the United Kingdom (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), China (Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs), Australia (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research), Canada (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), the Netherlands (Directorate-General for International Cooperation), and Switzerland (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation). See https://www.cabi.org/what-we-do/how-we-work/cabi-donors-and-partners/ for full details.

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