In the late 1970s and early 1980s the group of closely-related woody plant species and hybrids known as Prosopis were seen as a ‘saviour’ for millions of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in East Africa whose very livelihoods were threatened by the degradation of dryland ecosystems spurred on by overgrazing, and by deforestation and a shortage of firewood.
In 1996 in response to the first international meeting on invasive alien species, the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) a collaboration between the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), the International Union for Conservation (IUCN), and the Scientific Committee for Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), was launched. In 2001, GISP published a Global Strategy on Invasive Alien Species, shedding light on the magnitude of these invasive plant and animal species—which destroy agriculture and habitat—and outlined a global-scale response. In addition, the Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity recognized the urgent need to address the impact of invasive species, and in 2002, COP6 included the adoption of Guiding Principles for the Prevention, Introduction and Mitigation of Impacts of Alien Species that Threaten Ecosystems, Habitats or Species.
A new weapon in the fight against the fall armyworm caterpillar in Kenya is being launched giving thousands of smallholder farmers free expert help and advice on how to tackle the devastating pest through mobile SMS text messaging.
It’s hard to believe that a small worm could destroy millions — millions of tons of crop yields, millions of dollars in farm income and millions of tons of food for families.
I’m talking about the Fall Armyworm (FAW), an invasive pest that has spread quickly across the African continent. Originally from the Americas, FAW was first reported in West Africa in early 2016 and now seriously threatens food supplies across the continent.
Farmers in northern Ghana are beginning to get a taste of the latest movie out of the Box Office – it’s not a romantic comedy or a thriller – instead it’s a production that will help them get more from their soybean crops and protect their maize from the fall armyworm caterpillar.
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.
The town of Livingstone, in the Southern Province of Zambia is world renowned for its magnificent views of the Victoria Falls. Annually, thousands of visitors flock this town to awe at one of the seven natural wonders of the world. A few kilometres away from this picturesque view lies Kazungula, a small border town between Zambia and Botswana, on the north bank of the Zambezi River. This area is lucky to have plenty of rain, and the residual moisture that remains in the soil enables farmers to plant a second crop of maize, referred to locally as “winter maize”. What would seemingly be a blessing has, however, become a quandary for the thousands of maize growers in Kazungula. The invasion of fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperdainto this area has conspired against the farmers to ensure they do not exploit this natural resource to its fullest benefit. First reported by Zambia to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in early 2017, fall armyworm is present in all ten of Zambia’s provinces and continues to rampage the country unabatedly.