The menace of the fall armyworm: Lere Amusan and Seyi Olelekan Olawuyi discuss climate change, 'foreign insect' and food security challenges in Nigeria and South Africa.

AuthorAmusan, Lere

Hunger resulting from food insecurity is a known life-threatening social menace facing mankind, especially in many sub-Saharan Africa countries today. It is a challenge that has attracted the attention of many governments and relevant stakeholders in recent times. The reason is simple: the continuous vicious cycle of poverty and the pitiable state of food and nutrition security. Global climate change is partly responsible for the hunger being experienced by many people, especially in farming households, across the African continent. Many farming smallholders are surviving in a subsistence economy. Their livelihoods and sustenance largely depend on natural resource endowments.

All the countries across the globe, including Nigeria and South Africa, are vulnerable to climate change and its attendant consequences. The high temperatures and reduced rainfall experienced in many parts of Nigeria during the 2015/16 planting season are part of the effect of climate change. South Africa is currently experiencing the same problems. (1) This situation, which has major environmental and socio-economic implications, poses a big threat to food crop productivity. Many people in Nigeria and South Africa, as in other developing countries, rely heavily on agriculture and agricultural related activities for survival because a significant percentage of them are rural dwellers. (2) Farming activities are vulnerable to climate change shocks, which in turn have an adverse effect on food and nutrition security. This scenario, therefore, threatens the achievement of Goal 2 of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, which aim at zero hunger through food security, improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture. Climate change has various effects on agriculture, especially crop growth, quality and volume of production. This could, in turn, affect the supply and demand chain of agricultural products in the market, resulting in soaring food prices in local markets, which definitely affects international trade patterns.

Climate change effects also include the growth and infestation of insect pests in agricultural landscapes across Africa, threatening farmers' productive capacity. Insect pests' response to climate change and its implication for food security are causing growing concern. As Terblanche et al have noted, 'given the agricultural and economic burden imposed by several notorious crop pests, this concern is indeed warranted'. (3) In many developing countries, the insect pest hinders the achievement of food security and poverty alleviation among smallholder farmers because of their restrictive and limited productive resources. Additionally, an increased number of generations of insect pests within an agricultural season (otherwise known as voltinism) poses the danger of colossal crop damage. A 'foreign insect', the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), is a particular threat. It is currently ravaging the agricultural landscape of many countries in Africa, but in this article we focus on two pivotal countries--Nigeria and South Africa. We will consider not only how the fall armyworm contributes to food insecurity in both but also how to address this problem. Employing neo-liberal theory, we observe that complex inter-dependence cooperation offers the likely solution to this challenge in the form of African states coming together to arrest the spread of insects that destroy plants needed for sustainable development in agriculture.

Neo-liberal theory suggests that states come together in the form of an international regime/organisation with a view to finding common ground for the development of humankind and promotion of public goods that may not be provided in isolation. Since no state is...

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