New chemical to fight armyworm introduced

BY: Michael Quaye

RMG Ghana Limited, an agro-input company has introduced a new chemical product to help combat the fall armyworm menace in the country.

The new chemical product, belt expert, is said to contain an effective compound that possesses the efficacy to contain fall armyworms.

RMG Ghana Limited has since begun a nationwide spraying campaign to support government’s fight against the pests in the country.

Code-named ‘kick fall armyworm out’ (KFO), the campaign – powered by belt expert – is being implemented in particularly the maize-growing districts of Upper East, Upper West, Northern, Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, and Eastern regions.

It is a free mass spraying exercise against fall armyworm, and introduces farmers to a drone spraying system that complements the existing spraying techniques and cultures.

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Yield drop
Officials of farmer association Masara N’Arziki said farmers recorded low yields for grains in 2017 following the fall armyworm invasion.

Ms Matilda Egbenya Exornam, Training Coordinator with Masara N’Arziki, said the 3,000 farmers under the Masara N’Arziki umbrella reported drops in their yields of up to 70 per cent because of the presence of the pests.

She said maize yields ranged between seven and 16 units of 50kg mini bags per acre in 2017 as against an average of 20 units of 50kg mini bags of maize in 2016 and before.

Mr Martin Nartey, Business Development Manager of RMG Ghana Limited, told the media during a spraying demonstration exercise at Sakai in the Sissala East District that the company – as an agro-related entity – was concerned about the food security challenge posed by the menace of fall armyworm in the country.

He said the free spraying exercise would cover at least 2,500 hectares of farms in the six regions, with each region guaranteed some 250 hectares of free spraying with belt expert.

Mr Nartey said about 30,000 hectares of farms in the Sissala East and Sissala West districts of the region had adopted belt expert through RMG’s partnership with farmer association Masara N’Arziki and the Youth in Agriculture and Aquaculture Programme (YIAAP).

“The free spraying exercise is targeting those who fall outside these groups so that more farmers and farms would be impacted by belt expert as RMG contributes to efforts to rid the system of fall armyworms or minimise their impact in the system,” Mr Nartey said.

Mr Dela Nyarko, Marketing Manager of RMG, said the exercise is a corporate social responsibility triggered by reported shortfalls in yields recorded by some farmers across the country following the fall armyworm invasion.

Government support

Government, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, is currently supporting farmers with some other chemical products to help contain the pests in the system, but Mr Nyarko said it was also important to rotate the insecticides because of the nature of the fall armyworms to grow resistant to chemicals over a quick time.