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By Tom Price
On a continent where growing enough food to eat is a constant battle for millions of families, there is a new threat: the fall armyworm. In a little less than 2 years, this pest has eaten its way from West Africa to South Africa, and is now damaging crops in virtually every country in sub-Saharan Africa.
“This pest is expected to be a major shock to an already fragile economic situation for many millions of households,” says Shaun Ferris, Catholic Relief Services’ director of agriculture and livelihoods.
↗ International prices of wheat and maize remained relatively stable in November, reflecting good supply conditions, while export quotations of rice strengthened amid increased buying interest and currency movements.
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Preliminary production prospects point to aboveaverage cereal output in 2018
Production of maize reached record high of 3.7 million tonnes in 2017
Exports of maize expected to increase in 2017/18, on account of ample domestic supplies
Following stressed situation in previous year, food security conditions improved in 2017/18, on back of larger agricultural output
Early production outlook favourable for 2018 crops
- Onset of seasonal rains is delayed in parts of South Africa and Lesotho
- Rainfall season has started on time in northern parts of the region, and most other areas are expected to experience onset of rains in November
- Integrated pest management strategies have been recommended for countering fall armyworm outbreaks
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Southern Africa continues to recover from the 2015/2016 El Niño-induced drought, which by January 2017 had affected about 41 million people across the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)1. The substantial government- and SADC-led response, supported by $900 million from the international humanitarian community2, empowered farmers to take advantage of a good 2016/2017 rainfall season, delivering an April 2017 cereal harvest 3 per cent above the 5-year average.
Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), FAW, is an insect native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. Its larval stage (photo) feeds on more than 80 plant species, including maize, rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton. FAW can cause significant yield losses if not well managed. It can have a number of generations per year and the moth can fly up to 100 km per night.
ANIMAL DISEASES THAT ALSO AFFECT HUMANS
Zoonoses are diseases that are naturally transmissible between animals and humans. It is estimated that about 60 percent of known human infectious diseases originate from animals, and that 75 percent of newly emerging diseases affecting humans are zoonotic, with most coming from wildlife. Zoonoses can cause severe and potentially fatal illness in animals and humans, as well as serious epidemics and pandemics.
I. INTRODUCTION AND KEY TAKEAWAYS
The benchmark US wheat price declined in October mostly because of higher supply prospects while maize quotations firmed due to rain-induced harvest delays. International rice prices strengthened in October, mainly reflecting seasonally tight Japonica and fragrant supplies.
Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes expected to continue
International prices of wheat increased in September mostly because of weather-related concerns, while maize quotations fell further on crop harvest pressure. International rice prices remained generally firm, supported by seasonally tight availabilities of fragrant rice and strong demand for higher quality Indica supplies.
The world’s anti-hunger organizations have an opportunity to prevent widespread destruction of African crops by stopping the spread of an insect, warn three of the most respected thinkers on international agriculture.
However, the international community must act swiftly, in cooperation, and on a large scale to do so. The fall armyworm reportedly has a foothold in 28 nations in Africa, and it feeds on crops that include maize, which more than 200 million Africans depend on for food security.
Vulnerable populations in six Southern African countries will likely require humanitarian assistance through mid-2018
FAW infestations reported in at least eight Southern Africa countries
USAID/FFP provides nearly $47 million in additional funding to improve food security throughout the region
By Miriam Gathigah
NAIROBI, Oct 12 2017 (IPS) - A growing number of African countries are increasingly becoming food insecure as delayed and insufficient rainfall, as well as crop damaging pests such as the ongoing outbreak of the fall armyworm, cause the most severe maize crisis in the last decade.
Experts have warned that as weather patterns become even more erratic and important crops such as maize are unable to resist the fall armyworm infestation, there will not be enough food on the table.
The Bulletin highlights outbreaks of transboundary pests and diseases that have the potential to impact food and nutrition security in Southern Africa. It also captures recently concluded and upcoming events that are being organized by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and stakeholders to improve the capacities of partners in preparedness and response to crop and livestock emergencies in the region.
Improved maize supplies drove national maize and maize meal prices further down in July in all the monitored countries except South Africa (SA) where prices increased by roughly 6 percent. Moreover, national prices were considerably below their respective 5 year aver-age (5YA) except Tanzania, Lesotho and Swaziland.