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Regular outbreaks of migrant pests (armyworm, locusts and red-billed quelea) annually threaten the food security of the majority of the member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), such as Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It is estimated that the agricultural activities of nearly 123 million people in the SADC region (about 67% of the population), are threatened by migrant pests. These pests exhibit a high mobility and are able to freely traverse political boundaries, making active co-operation between neighbouring countries with regard to management and control, vitally important.

The main migrant pests which threaten food crops, are three species of locusts (brown locust, African migratory locust, and red locust), a moth caterpillar - the African armyworm, and red-billed quelea birds. Control of these pests before they become a serious problem is the major management strategy. Another is to establish the current distribution and pest status, especially in the case of armyworm where the sudden appearance, rapid development and disappearance of the insect calls for quick action, so that the necessary preventive action can be taken immediately. Effective cross-border communication is the key.

In 2001, the Plant Protection Research Institute (Lead Institute) of the
Agricultural Research Council in South Africa , together with the Natural Resources Institute in the UK, established a network of SADC migrant pest collaborators, and developed a modern computerised ICOSAMP system for recording and retrieving migrant pest information. Funding is provided by the Department for International Development (DFID) Crop Protection Programme (CPP), UK, and the project is a direct result of a DFID-CPP funded Migrant Pest Workshop held in Pretoria (March 1999). ICOSAMP addresses the need for a central office where all data relevant to migrant pests in the SADC region can be effectively collated and distributed. It contributes towards cross-border communication and co-operation by utilising modern technology to establish an internet-based information system that includes:

  1. Information databases of Regional and National Control Organisations, Control Operators, bibliographies, pest identification keys and migrant pest distribution data
  2. An automated input and retrieval system of migrant pest information that builds and archives spatial distribution maps (Geographical Information System - GIS), an email forum, a SADC specific gazetteer, and a bibliography.
  3. Migrant Pest Bulletins and maps
To minimise the impact of migrant pests on crops, and alleviate the poverty of resource-poor farmers.
These aims can be achieved by:
  • Developing a "CORE" of information relating to migrant pests in the Region,
  • Providing a "platform" for technical co-operation and exchange of research technology,
  • Establishing a 'peer-to-peer' network of control operators in the SADC Region and,
  • Establishing a standardised migrant pest reporting system for the SADC Region.
Various benefits are available to collaborating Countries.
  • Provision of early and timely warning of impending outbreaks
  • Prioritisation of suspect invasion areas
  • Strengthening of pest forecasting and management
  • Improved access to SADC migrant pest information
  • Assistance to Countries in the Region with safeguarding of their food security.
The immediate beneficiaries of the project are the decision makers of the SADC Food Security Unit, National Ministries of Agriculture, Regional and National Early Warning Units, and Regional Control and Research Organisations. The ultimate beneficiaries are the resource-poor farmers who are reliant on subsistence farming.
Three comprehensive outputs have been developed namely:
Information databases Input and retrieval system Migrant Pest Bulletins

Various Information Databases are assembled and archived. These include: Regional contact names and addresses; migrant pest distribution data (from 2001); bibliographies of migrant pest research; maps.

This website, hosted by
EcoPort provides a user-friendly and easily accessible, retrieval system for all information relevant to migrant pests in the Region. An active email forum is also available.

Regular monthly Migrant Pest Bulletins are produced and distributed via post, fax, email, or website.
ICOSAMP gratefully acknowledges support from:
The 1st Phase of the project was completed in March 2003 with the establishment of the regional network, and the development of the central computerised system.

The 2nd Phase, completed in 2005, included the development of "country-specific" computer systems, provision of hardware and software, and training of all country collaborators on their systems.

Central to the goal of the ICOSAMP project is the "Delivery of Information" and this is depicted by the letter "i" which is the symbol used universally for "information".

The dot of the "i" is coloured red to emphasise it as the "CORE" of the information.

The green wing is a stylised locust wing.

The yellow wing is symbolic of both armyworm and Quelea flight movement, and 'cuts' into the letter "i" to show the relationship to the information system.

This website is an output from an ARC research project funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) for the benefit of developing countries. The views expressed are not necessarily those of DFID. (R7890, Crop Protection Research Programme)
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