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To tackle devastating crop diseases, Africa should boost regional plant surveillance. The emergence of Tuta absoluta on the African agricultural landscape has rekindled pertinent questions regarding Africa’s capability to protect local agriculture and enhance international trade. The importance of being battle-ready on a grand scale rather than leaving those who are struggling to make daily lives take up arms against a pest they barely know about, is therefore not difficult to see. Thus, strengthening our national or preferably regional approach to plant protection could be key.