The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has presented a consignment of personal protective equipment to support the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in fighting the fall armyworm threat in the country.
The items, which included Wellington boots, hand gloves, respirators, overalls and goggles are to be used by spraying gangs who play a central role in the fight against the armyworms.
An outbreak of fall armyworm last year threatened a ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme by the government. MoFA, however, responded with emergency measures that included the procurement of chemicals to fight the insect pests.
A task force was also constituted by the sector minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, comprising experts from MoFA and other stakeholders to work towards the eradication of the fall armyworm.
The FAO representative in Ghana, Mr Abebe Haile-Gabriel, who made the presentation in Accra yesterday, made mention of the threat the fall armyworm posed to food security and commended the government and MoFA for the steps taken so far to contain the situation.
He indicated that the proactiveness in the control and management of the fall armyworms and the use of cost-effective pesticides, as well as the current preliminary research into the possible biological control of the pests would contribute towards the safeguarding of the environment and public health.
Consequently, Mr Haile-Gabriel gave an assurance that the FAO remained committed to supporting the government’s drive to reach larger numbers of smallholder farmers within the communities to enhance their capacity for the adoption of management measures that could effectively reduce the fall armyworm.
Among the support services offered by the organisation were a community-based integrated pest management using an agro-ecosystems approach and farmer field schools.
Mr Haile-Gabriel indicated that a refresher training of trainers for agriculture extension officers across the 10 regions was also being planned for this month.
Touching on the importance of monitoring in combating armyworms, the FAO representative further gave an assurance that the organisation would support the efforts by the ministry to strengthen the overall monitoring and early warning mechanisms.
According to him, 25 countries in Africa were affected by the fall armyworm; hence if an outbreak of the pests in one of the affected countries was not controlled, it could migrate to other countries.
The Minister of State at the MoFA, Dr Nurah Gyiele, thanked the FAO for the gesture and expressed the hope that the items would go a long way to effectively control the pests in Ghana.
He said the items came at the right time, when the ministry was preparing for the incoming planting season.
“We hope that these items will help us prepare very well for the coming season,” the minister stated.