Fight Against Armyworm Is Not Over- Agric Minister

The war against the Fall Army Worms (FAW) invasion in Ghana is not over, though successes have been chalked in the field, Dr Owusu Afriyie-Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has said.

This he said was because the leaves gobbling migratory insects from the Americas, presence in Africa in the past four years has been overwhelming and therefore called for concerted and committed efforts from stakeholders to fight the worms.

Dr Afriyie-Akoto said this at the end of a national task force review meeting on Monday in Accra over the invasion of the fall army worms in Ghana.

The meeting which brought major stakeholders including the international community to deliberate on the status of FAW in Ghana, identification and post management of infested fields and the baseline and methodology for assessing impact of FAW on maize production across the country.

The meeting, chaired by the minister also took time to develop strategies for management and control of FAW in 2015, review communication message on FAW and also develop a budget for FAW control and management for 2018 planting season.

The FAW is an invasive migratory pest from America which presence was first reported in Africa in Sao Toame in 2013. In January 2016, it was detected in Nigeria followed by Benin and Togo.

The initial report on the pest in Ghana was received in April 2016 and confirmed in November 2016. Its presence is now reported in several African countries.

The minister said the fight was successful in the sense that the insects were not allowed to visit their devastation on crops by a timely and concerted efforts put in place to mitigate the situation.

He said there was the need to step up efforts to ensure that the FAW impact on crops next year could very much be minimised while striving to ensure its eradication on a long-term plan.

Dr Afriyie-Akoto reassured Ghanaians that the invasion of the FAW has not compromised food security in the country since its impact was only felt within a small area of Ghana’s farm lands.

Giving figures behind the facts, Ebenezer Aboagye, Head of Crop Disease Management of MoFA, said a budget of GH¢15million was allocated for the fight against FAW since its presence was detected last year.

He said GH¢10million of the amount, support from Food and Agriculture Organisation FAO) was used to procure pesticides to fight the worms while the rest of the amount, provided for by the government was used for administrative expenses.

Mr Aboagye said the FAW has been contained in the sense that out of the 163,597 hectares which came under attack from FAW, through timely intervention 149,350 was quickly recovered leaving 14,247 farmland affected by the pest.

He said the infested areas represent a small portion (1.5 per cent) of Ghana’s farmland and therefore could not have had any adverse effect on food security.

Mr Aboagye said the Task Force would not renege on its commitment to fight the menace therefore a new action plan for next year would be made known through the various news outlets in a short while.