USAID develops new scientific database to solve Africa’s $12b agricultural losses to invasive species

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has developed a new innovative, scientific database that will help solve the problem of species that attack food crops in Africa.

It is said that the invasion of these species such as Africanized bees, fire ants, snakehead fish, kudzu, carp, water hyacinth, and thousands of other species are spreading to countries where they are not native, and are creating serious economic and social issues especially in agriculture.

The USAID said in a release July 11, 2011, citing estimates from the United Nations that African farmers lose more than $7 billion in maize crops from the invasive witchweed and an overall $12 billion agricultural loss to invasive species for Africa’s eight principal crops.

According to James Hester, Director of USAID’s Office of Natural Resources Management, the internet-based system, containing a bibliographic database of about 1,500 invasive species along with more than 65,000 records and full text documents, is “structured to help scientists with expertise in invasive species communicate with each other, and to support each other – from across the globe if necessary – as they work to address the problems created by invasive species.”

It will also support food security and public health in Africa, the agency said.

USAID, along with US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other international donors including the UK Department for International Development, the Canadian International Development Agency, and Australian Aid, among others, all helped fund this project with the technical database development from the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), a private, international organization with 46 member countries dedicated to the generation, accessibility, and use of knowledge for sustainable agriculture, environmental management, and human development.

By Ekow Quandzie

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