Fall army-worms confirmed in Ashanti region

The Ghana Agriculture and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA), can confirm that there is a re-emergence of the fall armyworms on maize farms in the Ashanti region.

This follows a visit to some affected farms in the Region, to ascertain the level of infestation and havoc being wreaked by the pests. It emerged, however, that an early application of the recommended agrochemicals on the maize farms can substantially subdue the destructive worms.

A member of GARDJA, Nicholas Osei-Wusu, who has been closely monitoring the development following the start of this year’s major cropping season reports that the Ashanti Regional Directorate of Agriculture has confirmed that traces of the worms invasion have been found in most parts of the Region, even though not at an alarming rate.

 The fall armyworms, identified to be migratory with the Americas as the origin, was first detected on farms in the Ashanti region during the minor maize growing season of 2016.

Their infestation, however, became pronounced throughout the farming seasons of last year leaving in their trail severe damage to maize production. Against any hope that the worms’ invasion had been arrested for good, they have re-emerged.

A visit to Sokwai, a farming community in the Atwima Nwabiagya district revealed a mixture of situations regarding the fall armyworms’ infestation.

On one hand, a farmer, David Yaw Sanaki, is battling the worms on his four-acre maize farm. According to him, upon detection of the invasion three weeks after planting, he has applied a certain agrochemical about three times at the recommended time period of between five and six AM on all three occasions.

However, the impact has been minimal. Another backyard maize farm, less than three weeks old, is also being invaded by the destructive pests.

On the other hand, a nearby maize farm which is at the tassling stage is doing very well. The farmer, James Kofi, who is practicing mixed cropping, told GARDJA that he applied the same chemical used for the rice farm on his maize farm days after germination during which period the worms find the stock suitable for feeding and that this has produced the desired result.

During GARDJA visit to the Ashanti Regional Directorate of Agric to seek official’s response to the situation, the Regional Management was locked up in a strategic meeting reviewing the fall armyworms’ re-emergence in the region and to plan effective strategies to manage it.

In an interview, the Regional Director of Agric, Rev. John Manu, he confirmed that about 17 of the existing 30 administrative districts have traces of the pests’ invasion.

He said everything possible is being done to reduce the level of potential damage the fall armyworms could cause to production adding that already, the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, is supporting a communal voluntary or ‘Nnoboa’ spraying gangs system to engender the most effective chemicals application.

Rev. Manu described the Agric Extension Officer-Farmer ratio as unacceptable. It currently stands at one Agric Extension Officer to one thousand five hundred farmers, a situation that is also compromising on the efficiency of the Officers.

But the recommended ratio is 1 to 500. He and therefore appealed for a strategy to close the gap.

The Regional Officer for the Plants Protection and Regulatory Services Unit of MOFA, Godson Tetteh, disclosed that the worms’ infestation during the 2017 season led to a 15 percent shortage in maize yield.

However, he indicated that some chemicals have been approved and made available for farmers to apply, at the moment.

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