The threat of alien invasive insect and mite species to food security in Africa and the need for a continent-wide response

  • Gudeta W. Sileshi
  • Solomon Gebeyehu
  • Paramu L Mafongoya


Alien invasive insect and mite species (AIS) represent a major challenge for agriculture, food production, and biodiversity in Africa. However, the lack of awareness and appreciation of AIS threats continues to hinder the development of appropriate policies and practices for their management in sub-Saharan Africa. The objectives of this review are to (1) provide a synthesis of current and future threats to food production and the economic impacts of AIS, (2) identify challenges to their management at national and regional levels, and (3) propose a strategy for a concerted pan-African response. The review identifies a total of 16 alien invasive insect and mite pests, affecting all categories of food crops, causing combined losses in excess of US$ 1 billion annually across Africa. Various models predict that AIS threats will continue to increase due to expansion of the geographic distribution and host range of existing invasions, thus threatening the already tenuous food situation on the continent. The review also reveals that only 16.7% of the countries have adequate border control procedures, while over 66.7% do not have comprehensive AIS management strategies. Therefore, we propose development of a pan-African strategy for effectively responding to AIS threats, and achieving the continental visions of free trade and collective food security. We recommend that biosecurity be considered as a food security intervention complementing yield improvement technologies, and implemented as a core element of national and regional strategies.


Biological invasions Climate change Policies Biosecurity Border control Cereals Fruits Vegetables 



We acknowledge the support provided by the University of KwaZulu-Natal to the first and last authors. We also sincerely thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

12571_2019_930_MOESM1_ESM.docx (35 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 26 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Society for Plant Pathology and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LusakaZambia
  2. 2.University of KwaZulu-NatalPietermaritzburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.PretoriaSouth Africa

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