The Head of Crop Pest and Disease Management at the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr Ebenezer Aboagye, has said there is no cause for alarm this year on the fall armyworm (FAW) invasion in the country.
He said all activities outlined in the comprehensive action plan by the FAW task force constituted during the invasion last year had almost been fully implemented.
“That is why for this year, the infestation level is low compared to last year. Farmers are not shouting.
It is under control for now with just about 0.06 per cent destroyed and these are people who did not report earlier.
All but those who reported earlier were actively managed,” he said in an interview during a stakeholders’ workshop on FAW management in Ghana.
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He said for this year, they were doing yield analysis to determine all the crops that had infestations and had recovered.
“We want to know the impact on the infestation on the maize yield. From that, we can know that if FAW attacks and we manage it very well, we can get the yield expected,” he stated.
Mr Aboagye encouraged farmers to carry out regular field monitoring, check crop leaves for signs and symptoms of infestation and inform agriculture extension agents for advice and effective management.
The invasion of the FAW, scientifically known as Spodoptera frugiperda (an insect pest native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas), was reported in April 2016 in the Yilo Krobo Municipal in the Eastern Region and in 2017, it spread nationwide and threatened agriculture and food security.
However, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), other development partners and neighbours, short, medium and long-term management measures were developed to deal with the FAW infestation.
A multi-disciplinary national task force comprising representatives from MoFA, development partners and other agencies was formed to develop and implement strategies for the management
The Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) organised the workshop in collaboration with the PPRSD and presented the opportunity for key stakeholders to review the status of implementation of the 2017 action plan and to strategise for the years ahead.
Meanwhile, a survey on farmer knowledge and practices on the FAW by CABI and MOFA, showed that close to 50 per cent reported less than 40 per cent of cultivated area affected with FAW in 2017 and more than 50 per cent of farmers in 2018 considered FAW less severe compared to 2017.
It stated sources of agricultural information to include worship centres, mobile SMS and voice services, government extension officers, community information centres, agro-dealers and input supplies.
Lead researcher, Mr Harrison Rware, said over 96 per cent of farmers who could identify FAW observed it on their farms in the last season (2017/2018) and shared information with other relatives, group and community’ members.
“Information sharing is mostly on use of pesticides, disease control and timely planting. Only 48 per cent reported using protective gears when using pesticides. Headache, skin itching and bad smell were some of the major effects of pesticides,” he said. — GB