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The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) handed over Plant Health Surveillance Material and Pest Material to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR).

FAO continues to support and assist the Government of the Republic of Namibia in its efforts to contain pest outbreaks in the country. In its recent intervention, FAO handed over a consignment of Plant Health Surveillance Material, Control Materials and locust spraying equipment worth a combined figure of USD 105 013. 46 (equivalent to N$ 1 575 201.90).

The handout ceremony occurred in Windhoek, at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Headquarters.

The plant health surveillance consignment includes items such as pest traps and killing agents. This will aid the Ministry, specifically its Plant Health Personnel, in their mandated quest to prevent and contain transboundary plant pests and diseases such as the Tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta), fall armyworm, fruit flies and Banana fusarium wilt, amongst others.

The equipment intends to be detecting pests and diseases as well as to conduct National workshops to develop and strengthen diagnostic skills of National plant health laboratories.

FAO estimated that up to 40 percent of food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases annually, leaving millions of people without enough food to eat and seriously damaging agriculture.

During the handout; Farayi Zimudzi – FAO representative in Namibia highlighted that it is critical to prevent the spread and introduction of pests into new areas. Hence, government, farmers and other actors of the food chain, such as the private sector, can contribute to save millions, if not billions of dollars, and ensure access to quality food.

Farayi further added that, “protecting plants is essential towards achieving the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems”.

The equipment are also meant to strengthen the capacity of the plant health unit and its regional extension officers within the country`s 14 regions. This will enable them to be ready so that they can combat the outbreak of locusts at any time.

Percy Misika, the executive director to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land reform was also present during the handout ceremony. On behalf of the government, Misika expressed his sincere gratitude towards FAO for providing support in terms of plant health surveillance materials and spraying equipment.

Misika acknowledged that, the MAWLR is grateful to FAO for supporting the development of an integrated programme on preparedness and management of plant pests and diseases which include surveillance, awareness creation, training of extension officers and farmers.

“The ministry will establish a surveillance mechanism, as well as early warning and forecasting systems which are important to alert government and farmers about the presence of pests”, says Misika.