Army worms have come to stay

BY: Daily Graphic
Mr Robert Ankobea (right), Chief Director, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and  Dr Felicia Ansah-Amprofi briefing the press. Picture: BENEDICT OBUOBI
Mr Robert Ankobea (right), Chief Director, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and Dr Felicia Ansah-Amprofi briefing the press. Picture: BENEDICT OBUOBI

The Director of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Dr Felicia Ansah-Amprofi, has called for a holistic approach to manage the Fall Army Worms (FAW) invasion as the insect pest “has come to stay.”

According to her, with support from international organisations, the ministry had put in place short, medium and long-term measures to salvage the situation.

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She indicated that the infestation had become a regional challenge and as such the measures could only minimise its hostile effects on agriculture.

“The FAW has come to stay and has become a regional problem. There is, therefore, the need to holistically manage it so as to reduce its adverse effects on agriculture,” she said at a press conference in Accra yesterday.

The press conference was to brief the public on the state of army worms in the country and what the ministry was doing to contain the invasion.


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Measures

The ministry outlined measures, including the deployment of pheromone trap catchers in various locations countrywide to ascertain levels of infestation, as well as the training of MoFA staff and farmers in farming communities on scouting, early detection and sustainable management of the pest in the event of an outbreak.

The ministry was also training some media personnel in effective reporting of FAW infestations to avoid panic reactions.

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It also entailed the distribution of pesticides to all district offices in the country to be accessed by farmers with FAW infestations, the use of bi-rational products to ensure minimum pest resistance and the adaptation of the Ndoboa spraying teams, which were formed to train farmers in the communities to support their colleagues to spray their farms in the event of infestation.

With regard to the long-term measure, the ministry had commenced the scouting of natural enemies of the FAW to reduce its population, Dr Ansah-Amprofi, said.

In addition, she stated that only biological control agents, microbial insecticides and botanicals/organic products, would be used to manage FAW in the country.

She stressed the need to intensify public awareness programmes to educate farmers and the public on the destructive pests.

Dr Ansah-Amprofi noted that Ghana was experiencing pockets of FAW infestations on maize farms in some districts in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Eastern, Volta and Western regions.

The infestations, she explained, had been blown out of proportion, adding “what we are now experiencing is the pre-season production infestation.

More infestations

The director also called for professional dissemination of information as the situation had generated into a public plant health issue with trade implications.

“We would, therefore, like you to appreciate that this is a public plant health issue which has trade implications and must be communicated in a professional manner,” she emphasised.

Dr Ansah-Amprofi appealed to the media to help with the fight against army worm infestation by collaborating with the ministry to educate farmers on its management, saying “media coverage and discussions should be geared towards improving the knowledge and skills of farmers.”