Fall Armyworm which destroys crops is a key concern for COMESA region

The African Development Bank (AfDB), through its Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT) programme, will organise a workshop for regional and partner organizations on seed policy in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of an ongoing effort to harmonize regional policies on registration of new maize varieties and products to control Fall Armyworm.

According to the press release, the workshop will convene delegates from 21 Common Markets for Eastern and Southern African’s member countries (COMESA), and will take place on December 13 and 14, 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to organisers, the workshop will seek to identify bottlenecks in the process of implementation of harmonized seed policies within the COMESA region and develop an action plan towards eliminating these challenges. This will accelerate the release and deployment of seed in areas with similar agro-ecological conditions.

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As part of its TAAT agenda, the AfDB established a Fall Armyworm Compact to mobilize support from researchers, the public and private sector, to confront the pest that is targeting and devastating crops in Africa. The TAAT program seeks to identify new technologies to combat the Fall Armyworm and distribute these technologies to millions of smallholder farmers across the continent.

According to scientists, Fall Armyworm, or Spodoptera frugiperda, is an insect that is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, now present in Africa. In its larva stage, it can cause significant damage to crops, if not well managed.

Experts say Fall Armyworm is a dangerous transboundary pest with a high potential to continually spread due to its natural migratory capacity. Without appropriate action, it could cause 21 to 53 percent of maize yield losses in 12 African countries within five years, estimated at between US$2.5 billion and US$6.1 billion.

Participants will look at ways to identify policy and regulation the Bank and its partners can work on to support countries within the COMESA region.

The workshop is expected to host participants from regional and sub-regional organizations, Market Matters Inc. (MMI), The African Seed Access Index (TASAI), African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF) and its counterparts in East, Southern and North Africa. The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern African’s member countries (COMESA) and other partner institutions, will also be represented.