New research by CABI reveals that just five invasive alien species are causing US$0.9 – 1.1 billion in economic losses to smallholder farmers across six eastern African countries each year, equating to 1.8% – 2.2% of total agricultural GDP for the region.
These losses are expected to grow to $1.0 – 1.2 billion per year over the next 5-10 years, highlighting the urgent need for coordinated responses at regional, national and international levels.
New research published in the open-access journal Global Food Security estimates the alarming level of economic losses suffered by smallholder farmers each year in eastern Africa, to a handful of species that have become damaging crop pests since their introduction to the region. These few invasive species can have devastating impacts on important staples such as maize, but also high-value crops including tomatoes, peas and green beans.
The study reports that maize, the most important staple crop in eastern Africa, is affected by several invasive species:
As much as $450 million is lost to smallholders each year to the spotted stem borer, Chilo partellus, a caterpillar which feeds inside the growing maize plant, reducing its yield. This pest also attacks other important crops such as sorghum. A biological control agent (Cotesia flavipes) released against this pest is playing an important role in reducing the crop losses suffered by smallholder farmers.
The recent invasion of fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) will add significantly to these losses as it is known to cause great damage to maize and other crops in its native range.
CABI’s global invasive species programme aims to improve the livelihoods of the 50 million poor rural households that are impacted by damaging invasive species.
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