Fall army worms invade farms, threatening food production

April 19, 2017
Source: Samuel Sam/theftonline.com/Ghana
Fall army worms invade farms, threatening food production

The National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG) has appealed to government and other stakeholders to help fight the invasion of Fall Army Worms in parts of northern Ghana, which poses a threat to food production.

The worms, which have destroyed some farms in neighbouring countries, leading to post harvest loses, have been detected in Ghana since last year, destroying farms along the borders of the country, especially in the Bolgatanga area.

They normally attack maize, sorghum and millet and when exhausted, they jump on to other crops such as soy bean and ground nut.

According to NASTAG, some farmers could not harvest their produce due to the invasion of the worms on their farms and this could reduce agricultural productivity in the country, and compel government to spend a lot more to import food.

"They will eat everything in an area, and once the food supply is exhausted, the entire army worm will move to the next available food source," the association said.

The National Coordinator for NASTAG, Mr Thomas Havor, who disclosed this to the B&FT in an interview in Tamale, noted that though efforts are being made by government and other stakeholders to boost food security, the worm could foil the intentions.

In the early part of the year, the worm infested large swathes of corn crops across Burkina Faso, Togo East and Southern African countries, devastating the livelihood of many farmers.

Mr Havor therefore advocated the need for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and other agencies to step up efforts to address the issue before it gets out of hand.

In February, the BBC reported UK-based Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (Cabi) as saying urgent action was needed to stop the spread of the worm in Africa, after it was confirmed in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

Cabi also said the worm was present in Ghana.  Its chief scientist, Dr Matthew Cock, said: "This invasive species is now a serious pest spreading quickly in tropical Africa and with the potential to spread to Asia. Urgent action will be needed to prevent devastating losses to crops and farmers' livelihoods."

Scientists think the caterpillar or its eggs may have reached the continent through imported produce. Once established in an area, the adult moths can fly large distances and spread rapidly, the BBC reported.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, in February, held an emergency meeting in Zimbabwe over the worm invasion, pledging to invest in fighting it.