Kenya, FAO launches strategy to curb pest, weed invasion on farmlands

KENYA – Kenya in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has launched an invasive pests and weeds management strategy to boost food and nutrition security in the country.

The Migratory and Invasive Pest Management Strategy has identified seven priority pillars namely; capacity building, early warning, surveillance, control operation, and livelihood restoration for a comprehensive, coordinated and collaborative management system.

Formulation of the strategy was informed by the recent desert locust invasion experienced in Kenya, which has posed a severe food security threat to over 4 million people.

The migratory pests have not only been a challenge to the country only, but to the greater Eastern Africa region, with devastating effects on the environment, national food security, and farmers’ livelihoods.

Other than the desert locust, added to the list of migratory pests are Quelea birds, African armyworms, and invasive weeds like the water hyacinth, whose frequency of invasions and spread have increased in the recent past, exuberated by climate change.

Peter Munya, the cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, said, “This strategy will establish a modern information and knowledge management system to strengthen surveillance, forecasting and ensure timely and effective control operations.”

The CS said the lessons learnt from the desert locust invasion and the emergence of new invasive pests and weeds have also exposed gaps in institutional and coordination structures, human capacity and resources, communication, knowledge, and information systems.

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According to Munya, a multi-stakeholder migratory pest management platform will be established to provide a well-coordinated strategy to help protect human and environmental health and minimize the negative impacts of control operations.

A sustainable resource mobilization mechanism through partnerships and collaborations will also be operationalized.

The Ministry will support the development of the relevant institutional, policy, and regulatory frameworks, prioritized in this strategy, including establishing a funding mechanism within the government that ensures resources are available for quick and effective response to any invasion.

On her part, FAO Deputy Director-General Ms Beth Bechdol highlighted that as much as countries would wish to control these pests as soon as they are detected, their management is complex and requires a well-thought-out roadmap and must be handled through a transboundary approach with the neighbouring countries.

“We trust that implementation of this strategy by the national and county governments, which we commit to continue being part of, will steer the management of migratory and invasive pests and weeds and ensure livelihoods recovery, restoration, and resilience for affected communities,” she added.

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