Proceedings of the Regional conference on the fall armyworm, Ouagadougou, BF, 10-12 September, 2019.

Under the patronage of HE Mr. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré President of Burkina Faso a regional conference on Fall Armyworm (FAW) was organized in Ouagadougou from 10 to 12 September 2019. The theme of the conference was : « Invasion of Sahel and West Africa by the FAW : status, solutions and available resources to counter the pest ». This conference was organized by the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel and the Ministry in charge of agriculture of Burkina Faso, with the support of FAO, G5 Sahel, UEMOA, the European Union, USAID and ECOWAS.  The conference is a response to the urgency of the need for a coordinated response against the damage of the FAW, a trans boundary insect pest that threatens food and nutrition security in Africa. The conference brought together 346 participants from 21 countries, including the 17 CILSS-UEMOA-ECOWAS countries, and Southern, Central and Eastern Africa.  The participants came from Universities, National and International (IITA, ICIPE, CABI) Agricultural Research Institutions, National Plant Protection Services, Farmers’ Organizations, subregional and regional organizations, Financial and Technical Partners, NGO and the private sector. The program of the conference included key notes sessions, presentations by the participating countries delegates, panels and a round table on resources mobilization strategies.

In West Africa and in the Sahel, the presence of the insect pest was confirmed since 2016/2017. In addition to maize, its main host plant, FAW attacks several other crops. The use of synthetic chemicals remains the first control method. Member states of ECOWAS and CILSS are assisted by several partners in their efforts to control the FAW. These include FAO, Africa Development Bank (AfDB), USAID. etc. Most of the countries have prepared their national action plans and implemented their task forces. However, there is still a need to train the different stakeholders (scientists, extension officers and farmers) in the management of FAW and to develop a capacity for the monitoring of the insect pest. Some research activities are in progress in the West Africa and Sahel sub-region : biology and ecology of FAW, relationships between FAW and its natural enemies, conservation biological control and biopesticides. The conference highlighted the importance of strenghening the collaboration between universities, research centers and extension services to accelerate the transfer of available technologies to farmers. It also insisted on the need to strengthen the capacities of the National Agricultural Research Systems in human, technical and financial resources.

Participants benefited from the experience of other Africa sub-regions including Eastern and Southern Africa. In these sub-regions, chemical control, biological control, IPM and GMO are used to control the  FAW.

At the policy level, the available levers for the management of FAW in the West Africa and Sahel region are the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP), the UEMOA Agricultural Policy (PAU) and the Food Security Strategic Framework of CILSS.

Regarding resources mobilization, the following suggestions were made : (i) allocate part of the financial resources derived from taxes related to food imports to better structure the production systems of the Member States (ii) mutualise resources and actions of the stakeholders at sub-regional level (iii) provide operational and technical coordination (iv) operationalize the phytosanitary emergency fund.

The participants made some recommendations and delivered a ‘Ouagadougou declaration’ titled “Let us mobilize to develop a coordinated regional response to the massive infestation of FAW, a real threat to food security and food security”.

The closing ceremony of the conference was chaired by HE Mr. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso and HE Mamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger.

Dr Souleymane Nacro

Member of the coordination committee of the conference


Editors’s note: Several entomologists from Africa will be presenting their FAW research  in symposia at the XIX International Plant Protection Congress, Hyderabad, India, 10-14  November. For details see: http://www.ippc2019.icrisat.org

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Sustaining Global Food Security

Cover of Sustaining Global Food Security featuring photos of maize, rice t

Hardback – October 2019AU $180.00

Assesses how economics, policy and plant and agricultural science affect global food security.

Population growth alone dictates that global food supplies must increase by over 50% in coming decades. Advances in technology offer an array of opportunities to meet this demand, but history shows that these can be fully realised only within an enabling policy environment. Sustaining Global Food Security makes a compelling case that recent technological breakthroughs can move the planet towards a secure and sustainable food supply only if new policies are designed that allow their full expression.

Bob Zeigler has brought together a distinguished set of scientists and policy analysts to produce well-referenced chapters exploring international policies on genetic resources, molecular genetics, genetic engineering, crop breeding and protection, remote sensing, the changing landscape of agricultural policies in the world’s largest countries, and trade. Those entering the agricultural sciences and those who aspire to influence public policy during their careers will benefit from the insights of this unique set of experiences and perspectives.


Editor’s note: I have a chapter in this book.

EAH/ IAPPS Secretary General

Chapter 17. E. A. Heinrichs 2019. Sustainable rice pest management: the role of agricultural policies.

Parthenium hysterophorus

Parthenium at the time of Listronotus release on June 20 2017_


Subject: International Weed Science Congress on 21-26 June 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to share information on The 8th International Weed Science Congress (IWSC) that will be held on 21-26 June 2020 in the thriving city of Bangkok, Thailand (see poster attached). The theme of the congress is “Weed Science in a Climate of Change” and features major topics spanning the breadth of weed science, including Herbicide Resistance, Climate Aspects of Weed Science, Physiology of Plants and Herbicide Interaction, Application Technology, and Bioherbicides. IWSS members get discounts on the registration, so make sure your membership is current or join IWSS now. Early Bird Registration & Abstract Submission closes on November 15th, 2019.

A limited number of graduate student travel grants will be offered to cover 50% of expenses, such as registration fee, accommodation, and travel costs. The most outstanding application will receive the “IWSS Larry Burrill Graduate Student Travel Award”, which covers all expenses to attend the Congress. Also, the European Weed Science Society (EWRS) will conduct a separate selection of Travel Grant awardees, primarily geared toward European students. Students may only receive a travel grant from either the EWRS or the IWSS, but not both. The deadline to submit the graduate student travel grant is December 31st, 2019.

In addition, a series of great symposiums, weed photo contest, oral and posters presentations, and congress excursions will be on offer at IWSC 2020. Register, submit your abstract, and learn more here!

I kindly ask that you circulate this announcement and attached poster to your society/institutional members and others who may be interested. Please let me or Nikolaos Korres (nkorres@illinois.edu) know if you have any questions.

See you in Bangkok!

Te-Ming (Paul) Tseng

Chair, Publicity and Promotion Committee

International Weed Science Society


A Guide to Biological Control of Fall Armyworm in Africa Using Egg Parasitoids

Tadele Tefera1, Muluken Goftishu2, Malick Ba3 and Rangaswamy Muniappan4

1International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe); 2Haramaya University; 3International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT); 4Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Editor’s note: Two symposia on this voracious, invasive pest will be presented at the 2019 International Plant Protection Congress in Hyderabad, India, 10-14 November 2019. For program details and Congress registration go to: http://www.ippc2019.icrisat.org

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The UN launches emergency project to help fight TR4

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched an emergency project under its Technical Cooperation Program to help countries in Latin America and the Caribbean fight the spread of Fusarium wilt.

TR4 was recently detected for the first time in Latin America and the Caribbean in Colombia, where 175 hectares of banana farms have now been put under quarantine by the Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario (ICA). Nearby Ecuador is the world’s largest banana exporter, while Colombia, Costa Rica, and Guatemala are also major producers. If the disease spreads, it would have devastating impacts for farmers and their families across the region.

“The role of bananas in providing food and household income in this region cannot be understated. In several countries, this crop has national economic importance, as it is a major export. Together, we can curb the spread of this devastating disease, and protect livelihoods,” said FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Julio Berdegué.

“This emergency project will assist countries in developing regional and national action plans, increasing their capacities to prevent, diagnose, monitor and contain outbreaks, and raise awareness and disseminate information among farming communities,” he added.

In addition, the new TR4 wilt project for Latin America and Caribbean also aims to support greater collaboration and experience-sharing among the countries in the region.

These activities will be conducted, under the leadership of national governments, in a coordinated effort with relevant phytosanitary institutions, including national and regional plant protection organizations (CAHFSA, CAN, COSAVE, OIRSA) as well as the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat.

“Countries must be vigilant in monitoring and containing any TR4 cases. Only strict observation of phytosanitary measures can prevent the disease from spreading. Concerted local and regional efforts, scientific support, early detection and international collaboration are crucial to combat TR4,” said Hans Dreyer, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.

FAO’s response
At the international level, FAO is establishing a global network on TR4 under the World Banana Forum, the multi-stakeholder platform of the banana sector, which the Organization facilitates. The network will help coordinate actions and disseminate technical advice from specialized bodies, including the Forum’s TR4 Task Force.

Additionally, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), whose Secretariat is hosted by FAO, also recently convened a workshop in Colombia for agricultural experts from 16 Latin American countries on plant health including best practices to prevent the spread of Fusarium wilt.

The Cavendish banana variety makes up around 47 percent of global production. Diversification, soil health and better use of available genetic resources are key to building resilience to the disease in the long term. Threats to the Cavendish may encourage farmers, and the private sector, to move away from monocropping towards more biodiverse plantation systems using some of the 1,000-plus other banana varieties.

For more information:
Cecilia Valdes
Tel: +56 229 232 100
Email: Cecilia.Valdes@fao.org


Publication date:



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Chinese experts have recently released what they claim to be a new Cavendish-type variety of banana resistant to Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4).

The new variety was developed using chemical mutagenesis techniques and is now being multiplied and distributed to provinces around China.

The development comes as plantations worldwide are increasingly under threat from the TR4 fungus.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in cooperation with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has worked with researchers from all around the world to support the development of new varieties of various banana species that would be resistant to the disease.

“Modern bananas can’t grow seeds and so are difficult to improve using cross breeding,” said Ivan Ingelbrecht, Head of the FAO/IAEA Plant Breeding and Genetics Laboratory.

Therefore, the use of techniques such as irradiation or chemical mutagenesis to produce new varieties with favorable traits is often a favoured option to combat the disease.

Other countries, including the Philippines, are in advanced stages of developing their own varieties using gamma irradiation, Ingelbrecht said.

Yi Ganjun, vice president of the Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Guangzhou, said the release of “a new Cavendish variety will benefit many farmers”.

“This state-of-the-art technology has resulted in a remarkable breakthrough to combat Fusarium wilt,” he said.

“The exciting results of a new ‘local’ banana variety resistant to Fusarium Wilt TR4 gives tremendous hope to banana farmers who have successfully tested the new plants in field trials.

“Mutagenesis techniques can contribute to the development of new banana plants to suit local environmental conditions.”

Chinese experts plan to support efforts in other countries to develop varieties resistant to TR4 that are suited for their climatic and soil conditions, Yi added.


Scientists use in vitro techniques to grow thousands of small banana plants in culture tubes suitable for mutagenesis using chemicals, gamma rays or X-rays.

These speed up the natural process of mutation in plants and creates genetic diversity that can then be used to produce new varieties, including those with favorable traits.

A coordinated research project with the participation of scientists from six countries, including China and the Philippines, has spearheaded work on developing banana lines with resistance to TR4 since 2015.

“The success achieved using chemical mutagenesis and the promising progress using irradiation in several Asian countries suggests that developing new, TR4-resistant varieties will be possible in the not too distant future in other parts of the world as well,” Ingelbrecht said.

Fusarium wilt has been a major constraint to banana production for over a century. The disease is caused by a soil-borne fungus called Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense.

The pathogen remains viable for decades in the soil and is therefore difficult to eradicate. A new race of this fungus has recently emerged, called Tropical Race 4 or TR4.

“The fungi enter susceptible plants through the roots and interfere with the uptake of water, causing wilting of the leaves and the banana plant eventually dies,” explained Ingelbrecht.

Confined to Southeast Asia for decades, the Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4) was spotted for the first time in Africa recently and in Latin America earlier this year. Its outbreak in Colombia in August led to the declaration of a national emergency.

science daily

New research from Cornell University shows that plants can communicate with each other when they come under attack from pests.

The study shows that plants can share messages in the form of airborne chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that transfer information among plants.

Andre Kessler, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell, and his team looked at Solidago altissima, a species of goldenrod native to the Northeast, and monitored the impact of a specific herbivore: the goldenrod leaf beetle.

The big finding is what Kessler calls “open-channel communication.” When plants are under attack, their smells — carried by VOCs — become more similar.

“So, they kind of converge on the same language, or the same warning signs, to share the information freely,” Kessler said. “The exchange of information becomes independent of how closely related the plant is to its neighbor.”

The research found that neighboring plants pick up on warning VOCs and prepare for the perceived threat, such as an incoming insect pest.

“What we very often see when plants get attacked by pathogens or herbivores is, they change their metabolism,” Kessler said. “But it’s not a random change — in fact, those chemical and metabolic changes are also helping them cope with those attackers. It’s very much like our immune system: though plants don’t have antibodies like we have, they can fight back with pretty nasty chemistry.”

That chemistry includes defensive compounds. For example, some of the VOCs can attract predacious insects, or parasitoids, which kill the herbivore and save the plant.

Such findings could have practical applications around the world.

“For a long time, people have thought about using plant-to-plant interactions in organic agriculture to protect crop plants, especially when you have intercropping systems,” Kessler said. “We are involved in work on a system in Kenya — called ‘push-pull’ and developed by the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology — which is based on manipulating the flow of information to control a pest in corn fields.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Aino Kalske, Kaori Shiojiri, Akane Uesugi, Yuzu Sakata, Kimberly Morrell, André Kessler. Insect Herbivory Selects for Volatile-Mediated Plant-Plant Communication. Current Biology, 2019; 29 (18): 3128 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.08.011

Cite This Page:

Cornell University. “Plants alert neighbors to threats using common ‘language’.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191003135713.htm>.