The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) has held capacity training for some selected farmers and agricultural extension agencies on the monitoring and scouting of the Fall Army Worm (FAW) in Tamale of the Northern.
The USAID Feed the Future Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) project and the Farmer to Farmer Program aimed at educating the beneficiaries on measures to take after detecting the invasion of the worm on their farms that affected agricultural production in last farming season.
The training was part of a series of activities earmarked by USAID ADVANCE in cooperation with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) to establish and maintain a national army worm monitoring and alerting system, starting in May 2017.
The participants were therefore also updated on the FAW situation in Western Africa, how to set up and maintain traps with pheromone, scout maize fields for FAW infestation, apply appropriate insecticides using FAW action thresholds and their rotation to avoid development of resistance.
The fall army worm (Spodopterafrugiperda) originated from Central and South America and was first identified in West Africa in January 2016. The pest is the larval form of the fall armyworm moth, and has indiscriminate appetite for consuming more than 100 different plant species, including cereals like maize as well as leafy crops.
The recent invasion of the armyworm in Ghana gives cause for concerns because it also devours plants’ reproductive parts and could eat through the maize cob, resulting in significant crop loss.
In July of 2016, the fall armyworm surfaced in northern Ghana and BrongAhafo Region, and thereby infested maize farms in the area that poses a major threat to food security and agricultural trade in Ghana as a whole.
The USAID ACDI/VOCA Farmer to Farmer Volunteer Professor Emeritus of the Oregon State University, Dan Mc’Grath, stressed the need for the farmers to collaborate with the extension agents to identify the worms and combat them to prevent post harvest loses.
He noted that the over spraying of the farm lands with uncertified chemicals also affect production hence the need for the farmers to use the certified chemicals and fertilizers to increase yields.
He urged the farmers to begin scouting of army worm infestation when the maize plants are small till the harvesting season to ensure value for money.
The Northern Regional Director of PPRS, Mr Akai Christopher, noted that the region is ready to fight the worms but logistical constraint is hampering activities.
He therefore appealed for funds to execute the projects to fight the worms to ensure increase yields of the farmers’ productions.
He stressed that the plant for food project cannot be achieved if the army worms are not cleared from the farms and therefore need for effective control of the pest in production and harvesting.
“We will liaise with the Extension agents to educate the farmers on the measures to put in place anytime they detect the worms on their fields” he added.
The Technical Director of ADVANCE, Allan Pineda, said ADVANCE is committed towards increasing food security, reducing stunting and poverty in the Northern Ghana.
“To increase productivity, we work with smallholder farmers through trainings on demo sites and perform activities to make agric inputs more available, and many others,” he added.
The yields of smallholder farmers’ beneficiaries of the project, he stressed, is about 85% higher than that of the national average in maize which double in rice and 83% more in soybean for about 118,000 beneficiaries.
He said the ADVANCE organised Farm Clinics to address pest and disease related problems with local experts.
According to him the invasion of the worm on the farms in Ghana led to the search for entomologist with experience in Fall Army worm (FAW) and ants to educate farmers and extension agents on best agricultural practices.