Ene Okwanihe, Abuja
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in Nigeria is collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria and other relevant stakeholders to prepare in anticipation of a possible Transboundary pest invasion particularly the Desert Locust.
Transboundary plant pests and diseases affect food crops, causing significant losses to farmers and threatening food security.
It can easily spread to several countries and reach epidemic proportions.
Outbreaks and upsurges can cause huge losses to crops and pastures, threatening the livelihoods of vulnerable farmers and the food and nutrition security of millions at a time.
Statistics show that 25% of animal production and about 40% of plant production are lost annually due to transboundary plant pest and diseases.
Desert Locusts, armyworm, fruit flies, banana diseases, cassava diseases and wheat rusts are among the most destructive transboundary plant pests and diseases.
All a training to build Capacity of competent authorities at national level on the best practices for the anticipation and control of desert locust invasion in West Africa and the Sahel sub-region, The Minister of Agriculture who was represented by the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria, Dr.
Olaniran said the training was timely and it would go a long way in strengthening the capacity of field workers to response to pest inversion.
“This training therefore would go a long way in strengthening the capacity of our field staff in responding to invasion by any transboundary pest it would also strengthen our preparedness and early warning system in the country”
He said so far the Nigerian government has released two point eight million Naira as a special intervention fund to put in place measures to prevent the invasion of migratory and transboundary pest in 2020.
The Assistant FAO representative Programmes, Mr.
Abubakar Suleiman said the FAO would ensure early action and strengthen regional coordination in checking the effect of pest invasion.
“What is critical to FAO is to ensure the implementation of anticipatory and early action for wide technical assistance to countries and strengthen regional coordination, to check the menace caused by this pest, in line with its country programming promo.
FAO places the highest importance in supporting government effort and enhancing disaster rate occurrence and resistance building.
Abubakar also disclosed that a regional technical cooperation project on control of desert Locust has been developed to be implemented in collaboration with the ECOWAS.
“it is in view of implementation of this anticipatory action and allied action that a technical cooperation project titled capacity building of ECOWAS in prevention, surveillance and control of the desert locust as well as the analysis of its impact on foods security and nutrition in the Sahel during the COVID-19 pandemic has been developed to be implemented with the support of FAO in collaboration with the directives of agriculture in rural development at ECOWAS commission”
He noted that the project is to strengthen the capacity and surveillance of targeted countries including Nigeria.
“The project is to provide technical assistance and build and strengthen the locust surveillance and control the property of targeted countries including Nigeria, Gambia and the Cameroon in the area of preparedness and anticipatory action”
The Desert Locust migrates in swarms across continents and is a potential threat to the livelihood of one-tenth of the world’s population.
It’s a menace to agricultural production in Africa, the Near East and Southwest Asia.
A locust can eat its own weight (about 2 grams) in plants every day.
That means one million locusts can eat about one tonne of food each day, and the largest swarms can consume over 100 000 tonnes each day, or enough to feed tens of thousands of people for one year.
Which is why it’s important to be prepared in anticipation of possible invasion.
Nigeria/FAO team up to mitigate against transboundary pest invasion