US$500 000 to fight avian flu and fall army-worm in Zimbabwe

By Oscar Nkala

The Japanese embassy in Harare has donated US$500 000 to help the government of Zimbabwe fight the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and the fall armyworm, which have badly affected agriculture in the past few years.

In a statement, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN-FAO) said the project will be rolled out this month with the objective of strengthening farmer and government capacity to respond to the two diseases.

“Preliminary reports indicate that in Zimbabwe, close to 15 000 hectares have so far been affected by this pest this season (as of March 2018). In May 2017, Zimbabwe experienced an outbreak of avian influenza (the H5N8 strain).

“Given the severity and urgency of these threats, the Government of Japan allocated funding for this project through its Supplementary Budget. The project will be implemented in several districts in Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West provinces,” the FAO said.

The FAW mitigation project will include capacity building and integrated pest management training for 500 government extension officers from the national, provincial, and district levels. It will reach an estimated 500 000 smallholder farmers and help them restore lost productive capacities.

The Avian Influenza (bird flu) mitigation project will include the establishment of an active surveillance system to allow for rapid responses to future outbreaks, while 500 000 smallholder farmers will be trained in disease surveillance and management.