Maize: 18,200 Hectares Destroyed - Armyworms Cause Farmers Huge Losses In 9 Regions

The devastation caused by fall armyworms has affected 18,219.07 hectares of maize farms as at Friday May 26, 2017.
So far, nine regions have been affected with farmers losing hundreds of thousands of Cedis of investment.

Most of the affected farmers have abandoned their farms as there is nothing left to be salvaged.
The pests were detected, last year, and had since rapidly spread, wrecking havoc on crops.
The green-striped caterpillar larvae of moths are very destructive, because they eat the reproductive parts of the plant and leaves.

Regional breakdown

The regional breakdown of the hectares affected are:
Brong Ahafo – 14,201.57 hectares,
Eastern – 1,583 hectares,
Ashanti – 365 hectares,
Central – 1,349 hectares,
Greater Accra – 117 hectares,
North – 354.08 hectares,
Upper West – 6 hectares,
Volta – 227.70 hectares and
Western – 15 hectares

Only Upper East Region not affected.

Ebenezer Aboagye, Acting Director of Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of Ministry of Food and Agriculture, who disclosed this to The Finder, said it is only Upper East Region that has not reported cases of fall armyworms.

42,008.4 litres of insecticide distributed

He explained that 42,008.4 litres of insecticide have been dispatched to affected regions for farmers to spray affected farms in addition to 1,380 kilogrammes of biological insecticides.

In 2016, he said only the Western Region was not affected by the fall armyworms but the scenario has been different this year.

This year, he said, the destruction in Northern and Upper West Regions were reported only in areas where irrigation was being used for farming as the three regions of the north were yet to enter the raining season to start planting for main season.

He explained that Bole in the Northern Region was affected because it is close to Brong Ahafo Region where the damage is extensive.

African armyworms and stem borers known to farmers

According to him, all along, Ghana only experienced destruction by African armyworms and stem borers.
Fall armyworms appeared first time in 2016

Therefore, he said, when for the time in Ghana’s history the fall armyworms appeared in the country, farmers mistook them for African armyworms and stem borers.

“Farmers, therefore, applied insecticides meant to control African armyworms and stem borers which could not kill the fall armyworms,” he added.

2016: Over 4,000 hectares destroyed

He disclosed that the fall armyworms destroyed over 4,052 hectares of maize and cowpea fields last year.
Fall armyworms not properly controlled in 2016

Aboagye explained that the damage this year is extensive because the insecticides applied last year could not kill the fall armyworms.

Breeding grounds

He said fields affected last year became breeding grounds for the fall armyworms leading to the escalation of the spread this year.

According to him, the inability of the insecticides to kill the fall armyworms last year called for further investigations which revealed that it was rather fall armyworms and not the usual African armyworms and stem borers.

As a result, the right insecticide has been distributed to all affected areas to kill the fall armyworms to adequately prepare the lands for farming in the minor season.

No fears shortfall in maize production?

He stated that if farmers apply the insecticides on time and adequately prepare the lands for the minor season, the country should not experience shortfall in maize production since the government’s ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme is expected to increase production.

He appealed to affected farmers to cut and burn the plants or spray the farms with the insecticides given them free of charge by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Aboagye explained that the fall armyworms are more destructive than the African armyworms and stem borer.
He explained that while African armyworms and stem borer could not damage the maize five weeks after planting, fall armyworms destroy the maize even at the tasseling stage.

He advised farmers to visit their farms every three days after planting since it is easy to control the fall armyworms when identified early.

Government released an amount of GH₵15 million for the control and management of the fall armyworm (FAW) infestation of farms.

Part of the funds would be used to purchase pesticides and other part for provision of logistics for a task force to combat and minimise the level of infestation.