Biosecurity against invasive alien Insect pests: A case study of Chilo sacchariphagus (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) in the southern African region
The spotted stemborer Chilo sacchariphagus poses a major constraint to sugar production in Mozambique. Current management strategies, in combination with resistant varieties and classical and augmentative biological control tactics, have the potential to combat this serious pest. However, C. sacchariphagus poses a major biosecurity risk to surrounding sugar producing countries in southern Africa. In response to this threat, a comprehensive awareness campaign has been rolled out. It comprises dissemination of illustrative posters, convening of mini-workshops for role players to review phytosanitary measures and regulations, and provision of information on monitoring for the presence of this pest in an attempt to prevent further range expansion. Despite implementing these strategies, there has been limited success in preventing the spread of C. sacchariphagus within Mozambique. This has highlighted the importance of developing a more aggressive biosecurity strategy. In response, a comprehensive incursion plan has been developed for this pest, and the need for increased engagement of relevant policy-making bodies within this region to streamline legislation and enforcement thereof has been identified. In the longer term, the initiation of research on biosecurity and development of a research presence in Mozambique, funded by SADC countries, is necessary. This would include a plant breeding programme to develop sugarcane varieties resistant to C. sacchariphagus, and research on control tactics such as the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and mating disruption. Integration of these with classical and augmentative biocontrol and other more conventional control options into an area-wide integrated pest management plan is proposed. This paper documents the successes to date of the C. sacchariphagus regional biosecurity programme driven by SASRI and sets out a proposed future action plan.