KENYA – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has selected Kenya as a pilot country to lead its research program on the fight against the fall armyworms (Spodoptera frugiperda), in the eastern Africa region.

The disclosure was made by Jingyuan Xia, Director of the Plant Production and Protection Division at FAO speaking to journalists in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

Xia intimated that Kenya was selected as a research hub for the pests given its strategic location and its great expertise in the field.

“We chose Nairobi as the center for research on these voracious pests because of its strategic location and its great expertise in the field,” Xia explained.

According to the official, scientists from the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) will spearhead research that will be shared with neighboring countries in East Africa.

The move comes after the recent alert from FAO, warning that the destructive pest has resurfaced in six Eastern African countries.

During the alert, FAO expressed fear that the African Armyworm has already invaded 23 counties in Kenya, striking regions that are still recovering from drought and the recent Desert Locust invasion.

FAO Country Director, Carla Mucavi, attributed the resurgence of this pest to climate change, highlighting that the prevailing weather conditions are highly favorable for its breeding.

 Xia disclosed that the FAO has developed a global action plan for armyworm control to ensure a strong coordinated approach at the country, regional and global levels.

The new global initiative, Xia said, aims to take radical and direct measures to strengthen prevention and sustainable pest control capacities at the regional level.

He also said the FAO is exploring the farmer field schools and research approach in the control of fall armyworm as part of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to controlling the pest.

Xia also disclosed that Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Egypt have also been chosen to lead armyworm research in Central, Western, and Northern African regions, respectively.

The fall armyworm was first reported in Uganda in 2016 and later in Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Rwanda at a time when millions of farmers were yet to recover from a devastating drought.

According to the FAO, the pest has caused an average annual loss of 36 percent in maize production, a staple food for more than 300 million Africans.

Chinese Qu Dongyu re-elected FAO Director-General

Meanwhile, Qu Dongyu has been re-elected to a second term as Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The elections were conducted during the ongoing 43rd session of the FAO Conference in Rome, Italy (July 1-7) where Qu received a total of 168 out of 182 votes cast, according to a statement by FAO.

Nominated by China, Qu was the only candidate for FAO’s top position during the election, granting him the office, FAO noted. His new term will run from 1 August 2023 to 31 July 2027

Qu was first elected in June 2019 to head the UN agency and is the first Chinese national to serve in the position.

His efforts have been extensively recognized by FAO member nations, noting that, since assuming office, Qu has actively led the FAO to address the challenges concerning global food security and contribute to the food and agricultural development of all countries, especially developing countries.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.