The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that between 20 and 40 percent of global crop yields are reduced each year due to the damage caused by plant pests and diseases. Once a pest becomes established, it is almost impossible to eradicate and is expensive to manage. Hence, effective control and management of transboundary plant pests of economic importance, can be achieved through development and implementation of harmonised pest management strategies that are aligned with regional and international agreements.
Plant health plays a critical role in improvement of food security and trade in food and agro-products. Crop pests, such as Tomato Leafminer (Tuta absoluta), Asian Fruit Fly, Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease, fall armyworm, banana fusarium wilt (Foc TR4) and cassava virus diseases pose a real threat to the food security of countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). These pests and diseases have a negative economic impact, reducing productivity, decreasing trade opportunities, and worsening post-harvest losses. In addition, there is a continuous risk of outbreaks of emerging pests and diseases such as the African Migratory Locust currently affecting different countries in the region, further threatening the food security of Member States.
The plant health component is one of three components, in addition to animal health and agriculture information management systems that are being implemented under the SADC EDF 11 STOSAR project. The intervention supports Member States in solving phytosanitary issues, increasing productivity and exports, and preventing the entry and spread of pests of economic importance. These actions will benefit the Governments of Member States, farmers’ associations, individual farmers and consumers, including other players along the agro-processing value chain.