The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) in the Northern Region has engaged some farmers in the Tolon District on impending dangers with regard to the fall armyworm infestation in Ghana as they prepare to begin the 2017 cropping season.
The engagement, according to Maize Breeder of SARI Madam Gloria Boakye-Adu, is to serve as a platform to build the capacity of farmers by educating them on what to expect in the cropping season and adequately prepare farmers in scouting, detecting, and possible control measures in the fight against the fall armyworm pests on their farms.
Fall army worm has already invaded some farms in the southern part of Ghana, destroying about a thousand hectors of farms already. The pests, which were detected in April, 2016, at the close of the 2016 cropping season destroyed a total of 1,038 hectors of farms in the Northern Region alone.
The fall army worm originated from Central and South American and found itself into West Africa in January, 2016 and finally arrived in Ghana in April, 2016 after they were detected by the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute.
The pest, which is the larval form of the fall armyworm moth, has appetite for consuming more than 100 different species including maize, cereals, and leafy vegetables.
They destroyed 1.4million hectors of maize and cowpea farms in six regions in 2016 and have destroyed over thousand hectors of farms already in the 2017 cropping season which has been described as unprecedented.
Farmers were taken through the live span of the armyworm and how it feeds on plants to create a vivid picture of the pest and put farmers on the lookout for them on their farms. “The Savannah Agriculture Research Institute thinks it is prudent to engage farmers ahead of the 2017 cropping season owing to the over one thousand hectors of farms in 2016 after SARI discovered the pest in April.
The engagement which is ongoing in the Northern, Upper East and West Regions seeks to educate farmers on how to detect, scout, and manage the pest on their farms”. Though the pests have already invaded about 30 farms in the Gushegu District and several others in the Tatale-Sanguli district, Madam Gloria Boakye-Adu explains the time is now.
The Savannah Agricultural Research Institute opines that engaging farmers on early detection, scouting and management measures before the 2017 cropping season takes a full swing in the region is necessary.
On SARI not being proactive on their mandate of research and educating farmers even before the start of the 2017 cropping season to avert the massive destruction, Madam Boakye-Adu revealed SARI needed to research extensively and know the potency. “Farming season is yet to begin here thus we are not behind schedule on this, SARI before we give out anything to our farmers must research and be sure of the potency in what method we give, we engage seed producers, non-governmental organizations who are into farming on these measures”.
This advocacy will be extended to the Volta, Central, Brong Ahafo, and Central regions through their partners.
She revealed controlling the pest in the 2016 cropping season was a bit difficult because most farmers had already planted as the pest were detected at a critical stage that made it difficult to control.
The 2017 armyworm advocacy programme which has already began in the Northern, Upper East, and Upper West regions will be extended to the Volta, Central, Brong Ahafo, and Central regions through their partners to ensure a nationwide success.
As part of the awareness creation, SARI has produced detailed brochures for farmers access and learn how to detect and scout for the pests in farms, manage the pests and form supportive groups in the community to control the pest.
She encourages farmers not to try to control the pest in isolation as farmers who do will not make much progress because of the polyphagia nature of the pest. “Farmers should form supportive groups in the communities to fight the pests because they will not make much gains if farmers try managing them in isolation because the pests are migratory species”.
The team visited some farms, which have already been invaded by the pests. Abdulai Mohammed has been farming for 15 years and he says though he heard of the fall army worm in 2016, he only saw a few of them on his farm during the harvesting period thus the early attack on his farm comes as a new thing to him. “This is my farm.
I have been farming for fifteen years. I saw the worms during harvesting in 2016 but saw it this year as soon as my maize shot up. I reported it to the agric director who sent some of his workers to inspect but he later called to confirm that what I have on my farm is army worm so he said the farm would be sprayed. I must confess that this is the first time I am seeing them this early”.