By Staff Reporter
THE Japanese government has availed US$500 000 towards strengthening the country’s capacity to fight the spread of Fall Army Worm (FAW) and bird flu.
In a media advisory the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the money will go towards the procurement of high tech equipment to help in surveillance and monitoring of FAW and detection of the genetic material of influenza viruses.
“In response to these two threats, the Government of Japan availed US$500 000 towards strengthening country’s the capacity to fight the spread of both HPAI and FAW.
The US$500 000 project include the procurement of high tech equipment to help in surveillance and monitoring of FAW and rapid and sensitive detection of the genetic material of influenza viruses,” said the statement .
In May 2017, Zimbabwe experienced an outbreak of avian influenza (the H5N8 strain) at a poultry breeding unit of one of the largest commercial poultry producers in the country.
The outbreak resulted in 2 million birds being culled to control the disease.
FAW was first detected in Central and Western Africa in early 2016 (Sao Tome and Principe, Nigeria, Benin and Togo).
It later spread in late 2016 and 2017 in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe it has spread to all provinces of the country, causing massive damage to crops and during the 2016-17 cropping season the country was the hardest hit in the SADC region by the fall army worm with 130 000 hectares of crop affected.
Agriculture provides employment and income for around 70 percent of the population.With farmers in the country still struggling to cope with the effects of successive droughts in recent years, an uncontrolled outbreak of FAW or HPAI compounds the effects on food security and people’s livelihoods.