Agric sector stakeholders commit to early warning response for pest control
Stakeholders in the agriculture sector have committed to developing and implementing an Early Warning and Rapid Response System (EWRRS) for the prevention, control and management of pests and diseases in the country.
The system is targeted at putting in place robust mechanisms that will ensure that as soon as a pest is introduced into the country, it is identified and action is taken to deal with it before it becomes a threat to crops.
The initiative is being spearheaded by the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in collaboration with the Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AiCCRA) project of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) together with 10 other state and non-state institutions.
A validation workshop was held in Accra yesterday at which the 11 institutions, working together for the implementation of the system, signed up and pledged to play their roles for it to succeed.
The institutions are the Plants Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Crop Research Institute (CRI), Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI) and Institute for Scientific and Technological Information (INSTI), all of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research - Crop Research Institute (CSIR).
The rest are the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMET), the Directorate of Agriculture Extension Services of MoFA, Farmer Line, a farm technology solutions institution, and the University for Development Studies (UDS).
The institutional partners have each been assigned roles ranging from developing tools for forecasting and monitoring pests, interacting directly with farmers for relevant information on pests, and generating knowledge and research for action and policy coordination and implementation.
The Director of the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agricultural Research Institute (BNARI) of GAEC, Dr Michael Yao Osae, who presented a draft of the framework of the EWRRS, said the signing of the memorandum of understanding by the stakeholders would help them to be more committed to working together to manage pests in the country.
He said protocols and new tools were being developed for forecasting the incidence of pests in the country.
"When pests and diseases break, it affects our yields and exports.
For instance, because of food flies, there are places where we cannot export our fruits and vegetables.
There are also post-harvest losses.
The framework will help us to deal with these challenges and sustain the yields of farmers," he said.
The Director of PPRSD, Eric Bentsil Quaye, urged all stakeholders in the agriculture value chain to play their roles actively to help respond swiftly to the menace of pests and diseases.
"The pests, which have become issues of concern in our production, are also adapting to the changing climate at a faster pace and causing more severe devastation.
For us to be more useful in our work as agricultural practitioners and stakeholders with food security at heart, we have to be more proactive and not reactive," he said.
For his part, the AiCCRA-Ghana Cluster Leader, Chislain Tepa-Yotto, said the signing of the MoU was crucial because it was a major step towards controlling the threats climate-driven pests posed to agriculture productivity.
He said the devastating effect of the climate-driven pests in Africa over the past 20 years was enough reason for all actors in the agriculture space to work together to prevent and manage future invasions.
There was a Fall Armyworm (FAW) outbreak in Ghana in 2017.
According to MoFA (2017), about 14,247 hectares of cultivated land were destroyed by the Fall Armyworm outbreak.