FAO alerts world on impacts of viruses, pests | Daily News


 

FAO alerts world on impacts of viruses, pests

Countries in South Asia have been facing plagues of locusts, cyclones and a deadly livestock disease, all of which threaten to worsen hunger and the livelihoods of millions of people, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned today.

Swarms of Desert Locust, which originated in Africa, have moved swiftly into west Asia attacking vegetation in parts of Iran and Pakistan, and are now threatening crops in India. These swarms are the worst experienced in more than a generation.

Fall armyworm, a maize-destroying pest that migrated to Asia from Africa in 2018, has also spread across the continent and has arrived in Australia.

African swine fever (ASF) has re-emerged in the Asia-Pacific region, and for the first time been detected in India. ASF, which ravaged pig production in China in 2018 and 2019, has also been discovered for the first time in the Pacific subregion, with cases confirmed in Papua New Guinea.

Cyclones such as Amphan and Vongfong have added to the damage in some of the countries already overstretched by their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the lockdowns of countries across the region in response to COVID-19 have taken their toll on the economies, lives and livelihoods of millions of people, the convergence of these plant pests, severe storms and animal diseases will only add to the suffering.

“We cannot and must not under-estimate the damage to lives and livelihoods that the convergence of these crises will have on food security and hunger in this part of the world, already home to most of its undernourished people,” said Jong-Jin Kim, FAO Deputy Regional Representative and Head of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.


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