Plant pest introductions and their spread: call for action or just watch? An African perspective.
Pest introductions and the spread of pests in Africa have caused serious economic consequences (both direct and indirect) in many different countries in recent decades. Unintentional pest introductions, if not addressed, will continue to devastate individuals' livelihoods, endanger national food security and damage the economy due to negative effects on export, which could include banning the exports of certain crops/products. Regulatory authorities are key to minimizing these pest introductions and their spread. These authorities need to become proactive and ask questions such as why this is happening, what potential actions can be taken as intervention strategies to stop/reduce pest invasions and how can spread be reduced? Several potential actions are possible but this paper narrows these down to (1) capacity building for national plant protection organizations (NPPOs), (2) public-private partnership and cooperation, and (3) investment in research for data collection and models for pest predictions. Information on these actions is given considering the situation in Africa. African countries are at high risk of pest introduction, potential losses of food and limitations to market access. NPPOs need to act now to minimize the risks and ensure food and environmental safety.