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Nature · Economy

Farmers crying over Fall Army Worm Invasion

February 22nd, 2018
in:Nature, Economy
by:Kwabena Adu Koranteng
located in:Ghana
tags:Africa, agriculture, Army worms, crop, environment, food shortage

Ghana is currently feeling the full effect of the damages caused by the Fall Army Worms that have invaded almost every food and cash crop field in the country over the past three years.

It’s been three years since Fall Army worm was discovered in Ghana and almost every farm in an around the country has been invaded since. Effort by farmers to use insecticides to curb the spread has been unyielding and government is considering applying biological methods to control the situation alongside he scientific method.

Yakubu Abbas Yaro, a 30-year-old farmer at Sakumono in the Greater Accra region has had his entire two-acre maize farm destroyed by the fall Army worm. “I have lost over GHC4, 000 cedis (us$1,000) from the destruction of this farm by the Worms. I planted this crops about six weeks ago and I have spent bout ghc1, 000 cedis (us$250) applying insecticide. I have sprayed the crops for more than six times but there has not been any improvement. The situation keeps getting worse. Currently I don’t know what to do. I will allow the crops to grow and see if at least I can get something out of it.

“It is sad that with all the problems we go through government has not thought of providing us with any compensation package. It is sad the government negligence is deepening the poverty levels of farmers across the country and we are being deprived of our livelihood”.

A four acre Okro farm belonging to Hamza Abdulai has also been invaded by the fall Army worm. “I am now thinking of destroying the plants. I will cut the crops down and set them on fire since nothing better could come out of it. We are appealing to government to come to our aid and provide us with some compensation. As I speak to you I am owing a lot of micro finance credit companies and I don’t know how to reimburse them with the destruction of the farm.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Agriculture in charge of crops, Dr Sagri Bambangi has described the situation as worrying and urged Ghanaians to join hands to fight the menace which is threatening food and national security.

“The threat, if allowed to persist is likely to increase food shortage in the country. The result of that is increasing poverty among farmers since they are being deprived of their livelihoods. We need to act fact to curb the situation. I have suggested to the scientists and the Agric experts at the ministry that if the scientific method of spraying the crops with insecticides is not achieving the expected results, then we can consider some of the biological methods that’s the use of “Alata Samina”, a locally manufactured soap to spray the Crops. The use of the soap spray on some farmlands has proven to be effective and we must expand the territories” he noted.

The Greater Accra Regional Director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Delali Nutsukpo believes that the use of the Biological method of fighting the fall Army worm would be greatly considered alongside the orthodox method to help control the spread.

According to him, the fall Army Worms were not manufactured in any laboratory in South Africa as speculated by some Ghanaians. According to him, it is a product of nature that existed in the United States and parts of the world.

“The fall armyworm has the capacity to devastate maize and sorghum among other food crops, which poses a serious threat to Ghana’s national food security. It is currently threatening food crops that can be stored for a long time. This means that we would have to import to meet the demand if the country is not able to meet our production targets”.

Government has released a sum of GHS 15,857,280.00 to carry out a number of activities including training of staff for early detection, collaboration and co-ordination, sensitization, developing and printing of fact sheets, surveillance at community and national levels, monitoring of control and management activities and the procurement of a strategic stock of insecticides, among others,

The Ministry has so far procured 72,774 liters of liquid pesticides and 4, 320 milligrams of powered pesticides for application of in the affected areas.

The fall armyworm insect pest which originated from the United State and South America was first reported in Sao Tome in 2013. Fall Armyworm (FAW) is a chronic pest in Eastern and Southern Africa and can cause severe damage to grass and forage crops. The initial reports on the pest in Ghana was received in April 2016 and confirmed in November 2016. it is now reported in several African countries.

It has a wide host range with over 80 plant species including several important field and vegetable crops. In Ghana, it has been found mainly on maize, but was also reported on groundnut, cowpea, sugarcane, onion, millet, and chili pepper. Other host plants include rice, sorghum, Bermuda grass or Napier or elephant grass, cotton.

“We entreat farmers to ensure regular monitoring of their fields for early detection is. Extension officers should assist farmers to detect the signs and symptoms of Faw, one week after the crops germinate because controlling becomes easy at the early stage”.

The head of the FAW is yellow, gray, or brown with a predominant white, inverted Y-shaped suture on the front. Farmers must look out for parasitized larvae having elongated white balls, which are usually near the back of the worm’s head.

Insecticides must be applied directly into the funnel of foliage of the plant at the early developmental stages of the larvae and the nozzle for effective control. Fall armyworm will often form a ‘plug’ with their frass in the foliage making it difficult for insecticide penetration. Ground sprays directly over the row are, therefore, more effective than the general sprays.

Safer Garden Dust is a highly selective biological pesticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis to control leaf-eating caterpillars and worms. After ingesting a treated portion of the leaf, caterpillars stop feeding within a few hours.

Article written by:
Kwabena Adu Koranteng
Author
Current Map: Our coverage
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Effort by farmers to use insecticides to curb the spread has been unyielding and government is considering applying biological methods to control the situation alongside he scientific method.
Embed from Getty Images
“It is sad that with all the problems we go through government has not thought of providing us with any compensation package."
Embed from Getty Images
The Ministry has so far procured 72,774 liters of liquid pesticides and 4, 320 milligrams of powered pesticides for application of in the affected areas.

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