The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has advised farmers to be wary of a resurgence of Fall armyworms (FAW) infestations on maize, urging farmers to monitor their fields frequently for early detection to inform the necessary farm management practices.
According to MoFA, there are pockets of FAW infestations on maize planted in low land and irrigated fields some districts in Ahafo, Ashanti, Bono, Bono East, Central and Eastern, Greater Accra and Western Regions.
FAW infestation was first reported in the country in 2016 with maize as a preferred host. About 160,000 hectares were attacked; 14,000ha got completely destroyed by the armyworms. In 2017, the government responded to the attack with approval and release of about GH¢16 million for its management. Some of the interventions included awareness creation, insecticide distribution, and capacity building and sensitization of farmers on early detection as well as management.
“FAW is now an endemic pest in Ghana and will continue to pose a serious threat to food security and livelihood of thousands of smallholder maize farmers. Farmers are being informed to monitor their fields frequently just after seed emergence for early detection of signs and symptoms of FAW infestation and implement the necessary management options at the vulnerable stages of the larvae,” a statement by the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD)-MoFA, has said.
The Agric Ministry has, therefore, urged farmers and the general public to report FAW infestations to the nearest MoFA offices, Agricultural Extension Agents or PPRSD Head Office, Pokuase, Accra for the necessary advice.
The destructive pests first arrived in Africa from the Americas. In 2013 the first case was recorded in Sao Tome and Principe. The worms have quickly spread across the continent. As of August 2017, a total of 28 African countries had confirmed the infestation of the pests in their territories but in November 2017, they have spread across Africa.
FAW, Spodoptera fruiperda (Smith) is a migratory moth which can attack over 80 plant species with its larvae (caterpillars), the most destructive stage of its life cycle. Historically, the FAW is native to the tropical regions of the western hemisphere, especially in the Americas where it is noted for its sporadic occurrence and devastating effect on agriculture production.