Pest and Disease Control in WCA: CORAF’s Blueprint

« The spread of transboundary plant pests and diseases has increased dramatically, affecting food crops, causing significant losses to farmers and threatening food security »,  declared Dr. Emmanuel Njukwe, CORAF’s Director of Research and Innovation.

Dr. Njukwe was speaking at a public forum organized in a hybrid format, in Accra (Ghana) and online, by the ‘Accelerating Impacts of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research —CGIAR— Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA)’.

Organized under the theme “Unlocking the potential for inclusive, climate-smart innovations and finance for healthier crops, environment”, the forum’s objectives included building a regional alliance to support the Food System Resilience Programme (FSRP) through the co-development of a fully integrated strategy for climate-driven biorisks management in West Africa.

It is within this framework that CORAF’s Director of Research and Innovation presented CORAF’s agenda on pest and disease as well as the plans of the organization, towards a regional Alliance.

“Through its interventions, CORAF helps farmers better control and manage pests and diseases in West and Central Africa. It provides technical assistance to National Agricultural Research Systems to establish effective surveillance approaches, integrated management practices, farmer training, sensitization and capacity building, while strengthening linkages among stakeholders and promoting regional collaboration,” explained Dr. Njukwe.

CORAF is currently implementing a myriad of projects aimed at stemming the effects of climate change and controlling pests and diseases.

These projects include the ‘Anticipate and manage biological risks to strengthen farmers’ resilience to climate change in West and Central Africa’ project (BioRisks), the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme ex-Pillar 4 (CAADP-XP4) which aims for a science led Climate relevant agricultural transformation in West and Central Africa, the Agricultural Technologies and Innovations Scaling Up Project for Increasing the Resilience of Production Systems and Family Farms in West and Central Africa (TARSPro), the Food Systems Resilience Program (FSRP), and many others. 

“Farmers, more specifically, smallholders centric, all these projects promote Climate-Smart Agriculture, thus addressing the challenges of climate change and biological risks because it is nowadays impossible to dissociate both,” emphasizes CORAF’s Director of Research and Innovation.

Towards a regional Alliance to control pests and diseases

However, “the crusade against pests and diseases is not the business of one organization alone. The need for an alliance that pools the efforts of its members is trivial,” acknowledged Dr. Njukwe.

For greater efficiency and impact, CORAF is developing plans to form an Alliance with two strategic partners: the Regional Center of Excellence (RCE) of the ‘Central and West African Virus Epidemiology for Food Security — WAVE’ program and the Biorisk Management Facility —BIMAF.

The Wave RCE focuses its efforts on the effective control and management of plant diseases, as well as preventing the incursion of exotic plant diseases into new areas, while BIMAF is a multi-partner platform that focuses on arthropods’ control.

“The Wave RCE is based in Côte d’Ivoire and BIMAF, in Benin. Both have a scope of action relatively limited to West Africa. Thus, a CORAF-WAVE-BIMAF Alliance would be effective in the fight against pests and diseases because each of the parties would bring its expertise, and CORAF would ensure the coordination of actions as well as their extension to Central Africa,” said Dr. Njukwe.

“Doing so will give us a better chance to win the fight against pests and diseases and ensure food and nutritional security for the people in West and Central Africa.”

AICCRA is a new project that expands African farmers’ access to climate information services and climate-smart agriculture.

It is implemented in six countries: Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Senegal and Zambia.

Supported by a grant from the World Bank’s International Development Association, it is led by the Bioversity International and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Alliance.