AN estimates that 40% of food crops are lost each year to plant pests and diseases, leaving millions of people food insecure and with severely damaged produce, which is the main source of income for rural communities. and smallholders.
This was clarified by Farayi Zimudzi, representative in Namibia of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), during the delivery on Tuesday of phytosanitary surveillance equipment and locust spraying equipment to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Agrarian Reform. .
As part of FAO’s support to the STOSAR and African Migratory Locust projects, a consignment of plant health surveillance and locust control and spraying equipment worth N$1.6 million was handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Agrarian Reform.
Zimudzi said plant health is increasingly at risk, as climate change and human activities alter ecosystems, reduce biodiversity and create favorable conditions for pests.
“This in turn creates sufficient ground for the destruction and potential extinction of plants that can destroy the entire food chain and negatively affect our ecosystems,” she said.
Zimudzi said FAO is coordinating efforts and responses to pests such as the Fall Armyworm and locusts by promoting innovative technologies for monitoring and early warning, and working with partners to enable the transfer of knowledge of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to farmers and plant protection institutions. in developed countries.
Zimudzi added that Namibia is no exception as FAO has played an immense role in assisting the government in its efforts to contain pest outbreaks in the country in recent years.
In his acceptance speech, the executive director for agriculture, Percy Misika, said the FAO donation comes at an opportune time and will bolster their efforts to respond quickly to pest outbreaks.
Misika said the ministry will establish monitoring, mechanism, as well as early warning and forecasting systems which are important in alerting the government and farmers to the presence of pests.
He noted that Namibia has experienced frequent outbreaks of plant pests and diseases which have been reported in areas where they are rare.
As a result, transboundary pests and diseases of plants of economic importance have caused significant damage to agricultural production, leading to serious adverse effects on livelihoods, food security and nutrition, as well as the national economy. .
“Insufficient national capacity for pest surveillance, monitoring, early warning system, emergency preparedness and pest eradication, including weak linkages between relevant institutions, are some major factors that contribute to the introduction and spread of pests,” he said.
He indicated that they are very concerned about the emergence, intensity and spread of this pest.
To make matters worse, he said, there is the intermittent outbreak of brown and African migratory locusts, tomato leaf miner and fruit fly, which are among the most common transboundary plant pests and diseases. destroyers that threaten food and nutrition security in the country.