General News Thu, 28 Sep 2017

Pesticide scientist warns of Fall Armyworms resurgence

A pesticide scientist is warning of a massive resurgence of the fall armyworm unless the Food and Agriculture Ministry finds a sustainable remedy.

Dr Henry Ofosuhene Sintim says the worms could be chemical-resistant and therefore more difficult to control.

“For its life cycle, the pupa lives in the soil and the adult can fly very long distances. They can fly as far as 1600 kilometres in 30 days.

“So even if the ones in Ghana are gone, they are bound to fly back. Also, the pesticide on the market maybe targeting the larvae but not the eggs,” he said.

Large swathes of farmlands have been destroyed by the pests across the country.

Since March this year, the pests have invaded more than 115,000 hectares of farm fields leaving farmers struggling to recoup their investments.

The caterpillars mainly attack maize crops and eat everything in an area. Once the food supply is exhausted, the entire "army" will move to the next available food source.

The invasion appears to have died down as the major planting season ended in August.

Related: CSIR warns of major resurgence of Fall Armyworm pests Scientists at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have also warned there could be a major resurgence of the Fall Armyworm pests on farms across the country from next month.

Scientists at the country’s premier science and technology institution, therefore, want the government to immediately activate a fightback plan to avert destruction.

At a recent appearance with the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, the Agric Minister, Dr Akoto Owusu Afriyie says government deserves commendation and not condemnation for how it has managed the fall Armyworms in farms across the country.

According to him, the country has managed the invasion better than other countries in the sub-region.

The Minister announced victory in a war against fall armyworms which had destroyed several thousands of hectares of farms across the country. The worms were said to have infected over 112,000 farmlands, 14,000 farms of which were completely destroyed.

The farmers said the situation posed an existential threat to the livelihood of about 4 million farmers whose farmlands have been infested.

Mostly affected were grain farmers, even though some cocoa farmers also complained about the invasion.

However, Dr Ofosuhene Sintim registered his displeasure with the failure of authorities to involve field scientists in matters of research to address challenges of plant pests and diseases.

"There should be a holistic way of trying to look for control, but we have an advantage in the sense that this is a pest that has been widely studied in the Americas. In the interim, we could go to the Americas or adopt they have been treating the pests.

"They will never go away like any other insect on cocoa and any other plant; you spray them and they die but they develop resistance and pass the genes on to their offspring," he said.

Source: Myjoyonline.com
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