A Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Sagre Bambangi, has assured the nation that the recent invasion of Fall Army Worms on some farmlands will not threaten food security.
In an interview with the GRAPHIC BUSINESS after responding to questions posed to him on the floor of Parliament, the deputy minister said the level of infestation that had so far been recorded was not enough to threaten food security in the country.
“Our estimation so far suggests that about 112,812 hectares have been affected but only about 14,430 hectares have been destroyed completely. When you do the calculation, it’s only about six per cent that has been completely destroyed and so I don’t see this threatening overall national food security,” he stated.
He, however, said the invasion of the fall army worms was likely to contribute to food insecurity in some households as it would affect the income and livelihood of some farmers and their families.
He indicated that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) was, therefore, putting in place lots of measures to combat the menace and minimise its impact on farmers and households.
Fall Army Worms, which are pests that feed on more than 80 plant species, have invaded lots of farms in the country in the last couple of months.
The pests, which originated in America, had never been seen on the African continent until last year; and since then, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ghana have seen these pests invade farms.
The army worm was first reported on maize in the Yilo Krobo District of the Eastern Region in April 2016, with maize being its main host. Currently, it has spread to all 10 regions in the country.
Dr Bambangi said the ministry had initiated remedial actions to combat the menace with Cabinet’s approval of an emergency budget of GH¢15.8 million to fight the pests.
Subsequently, he noted, the ministry had started training staff on early detection, collaboration and coordination, sensitisation and awareness creation.
He stated that it had also developed and printed fact sheets meant to educate the farmers and also increase its surveillance at the national and community levels.
“We are also engaging in monitoring of control and management activities and have procured 72,774 litres of liquid pesticides and 4,328 kilogrammes of powdered pesticides,” he said.
“The minister has also inaugurated a 16-member task force comprising experts from MoFA and other Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), as well as development partners,” he added.
He said four sub-committees had also been formed, namely collaboration, coordination and contingency planning committee; sensitisation and awareness creation committee; control management and research committee, and surveillance and early warning committee.
“The ministry, in conjunction with other partners, have also developed jingles which are being played on 43 radio stations across the country in different languages to create awareness,” he noted.