FAW breakthrough in the offing

Ghana is on the verge of finding a lasting solution to the dreaded fall armyworms which has been the bane of maize production in the country over the last two years.

This follows the near breeding of a new variety of maize that is proving to be an effective resistant to the Fall Army Worm pest.

The new hybrid maize which is also very high yielding is in its first year of cultivation and will be ready for harvesting in less than a month from now.

The Ashanti Region Representative on the Council of State, Nana Owusu Achiaw Brempong, who is a commercial farmer, is the brain behind the near-breakthrough on his 400-acre maize farm at Nkujia Aframso Number Two in the Sekyere Central district of the Ashanti region.

Nana Owusu Achiaw in an interview, during a visit to his farm, said while the fall armyworms were able to destroy a variety of the conventional maize on the same plot of land, the pests could not attack the newly developed hybrid variety thereby giving a strong indication that the all yellow corn could be efficacious against the deadly pests.

Originating from the Americas, the highly destructive pests, fall armyworms, were first detected in insignificant numbers in the Ashanti region during the minor farming season of 2016.

There was, however, a major outbreak of the worms that is nocturnal in nature, during the major farming season last year during which period the government struggled to find a permanent break on their infestation leading to a substantial loss of crops, particularly maize yield in almost all the administrative regions of Ghana.

Up till now, there is no known efficacious agro-chemical that can effectively stop their attack while a laboratory study is yet to be conducted by any individual or organization to determine the chemical residue of the chemicals in the maize produced last year.

Nana Owusu Achiaw Bremping, who is also the chief of Akrofooso near Agona in the Sekyere South district, has been in commercial farming for nearly 12 years and presently has two farms of maize and 20 thousand mounds of yam.
These are the 400-acre new hybrid and a 130-acre conventional maize farms cultivated with three workers.

He has also built an irrigation dam with an installation of a central-pivot modern irrigation system at a cost of about one million Ghana Cedis which is aimed at the cultivation of mainly vegetables during the dry season.

As part of his corporate social responsibility, the Council of State Member has personally re-shaped part of the 30-kilometre Nsuta-Nkujia Aframso Number feeder road with small bridges over portions of the Afram river that runs through the farm complex.

He is also supplying the community with electricity through an installed generator. Nana Owusu Achiaw Brempong entreated government to provide incentives to attract the youth into commercial agriculture since it is capital intensive.

The Ashanti Regional Director of Agric, Reverend John Manu, in an interview, described the development as spectacular.

He indicated that the achievement could help the government substantially reduce its expenditure on control measures against the Fall Army Worms.

Rev. Manu suggested to research scientists to consider developing similar varieties in other crops so as to reduce pest attacks and cost of control.’

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