A thought leadership campaign developed by Matter PR calls for urgent action to tackle the global spread of invasive species, as the recent Fall armyworm outbreak casts doubts over Africa and Asia’s preparedness to fight the scourge.
As part of a campaign for the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), Matter PR recently researched and edited their first insights paper: Invasive Species: The hidden threat to sustainable development which was published to coincide with the Africa Green Revolution Forum in Rwanda in September and the launch of CABI’s Action on Invasives programme.
We’ve worked with CABI over the past 18 months to help them better understand their stakeholder landscape and develop a communications strategy that will help to position CABI as a thought leader in the sector and generate more impact on the issues they care about. Strategy development, Stakeholder Engagement, and Thought Leadership campaigns are amongst Matter PR’s key strengths.
The ultimate goal of CABI’s Invasive Species programme is to enable developing countries to prevent or detect and control invasive species. It will help them to protect and restore agricultural and natural ecosystems, reduce crop losses, improve health, remove trade barriers and reduce degradation of natural resources, infrastructure and vulnerable areas.
Dr Dennis Rangi, CABI’s Director General for Development said:
“We are falling behind, and progress is currently too slow to achieve the ambitious targets set by the international community. If we do not accelerate progress on these critical issues, further outbreaks cannot be prevented. We believe the international community needs a renewed commitment to implementing change and investing in measures that will help countries become better prepared to handle the impact of any new invasive species outbreak.”
The organisation has recommended three key areas for urgent action:
National strategy and planning – every country must have an invasive species strategy and action plan in place by 2020 including a national priority list identifying their highest outbreak risks and targeting national efforts accordingly
Increased investment in tackling invasive species – making this a cross-government priority and an integral component of development projects to help fund important initiatives like the need to harness big data
Lower risk management methods – development of policy/regulation that encourages the use of lower risk management methods (biocontrol, Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
The Action on Invasives programme has already been piloted on specific species in Ghana and Pakistan, with support and funding from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Netherlands’ Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS). It is now being scaled up so that people around the world can fulfil their potential and help their countries prosper.
The Fall armyworm – a moth indigenous to the Americas – has been spreading rapidly across Africa since 2016. It has also been recently found in India, giving rise to fears for the food security of millions of people across Asia.
While just 12 African countries had confirmed the presence of fall armyworm a year ago, today there are over 40 African countries infected by the pest.
It is estimated that the fall armyworm in Africa has the potential to cause maize yield losses of up to 20.6 million tonnes per annum in just 12 of Africa’s maize-producing countries. This represents nearly 53% of annual production. The value of these losses is estimated to be up to US$6.2 billion.
In Africa, fall armyworm is best known for eating maize, but the caterpillar has a voracious appetite and is known to eat 186 plant species from 42 families, including rice, sorghum and sugarcane, as well as cabbage, beet, peanut, soybean, alfalfa, onion, cotton, pasture grasses, millet, tomato, potato and cotton.