The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Mozambican government have agreed to spend $5.6 million to support measures aimed at tackling the threat to the agricultural sector by pests and diseases.A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was formalised in Maputo on Friday by Mozambique’s Agriculture Minister, Higino Marrule and USAID’s Sheryl Strumbras, and witnessed by Olman Serrano, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in the country.
Under the agreement, the funds will focus on tackling new pests and diseases which are reducing productivity in small-scale farming.
In a speech after signing the accord, Marrule explained that emphasis will be on technical assistance including joint agrarian research.
The Mozambican official said the government will continue to intervene in the control of plant diseases as the resulting crop losses lead to the need to import food.
“We are aware that exotic pests and diseases can considerably reduce harvests of maize and other crops in Mozambique and place at risk the food security and livelihood of families” he said.
According to Strumbras, the project, funded by USAID, will run for four years from 2018 to 2022 to strengthen the capacity of the Agriculture ministry and other stakeholders to monitor and control animal pests and diseases as well as develop sustainable practices of integrated management to tackle trans-boundary pests and diseases, particularly the fall armyworm.
Strumbras stated that USAID is confident that, “under the leadership of the minister and in collaboration with the public and private sector, Mozambique will overcome this latest challenge to the agricultural sector”.
About half of the funds will be spent on the pest management plan created by the ministry and the FAO.
The rest will be used for research and vaccination schemes to tackle diseases in livestock (such as foot and mouth disease) and poultry carried out by the Mozambican Agricultural Research Institute (IIAM).
Some areas of Mozambique have been seriously affected by fall armyworm, with the worst-hit provinces being Niassa in the far north, Maputo in the south, and Zambezia in the central region.
The fall armyworm is an invasive species native to the Americas.
It has now spread to 44 African countries where it has caused damage estimated at over $13 billion.