Seemingly Invasion Of Farms By Army Worms

The Pests Intelligence Control Unit of Ghana Chamber of Agribusiness Executives can confirm a seemingly invasion of cereal farms in the country by army worms, and call on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to act with a sense of urgency.

The Chamber is urging the ministry to release required supplies to the Agricultural Extension Officers across the country to enable them to visit farming communities and render their valuable services to the worried and affected farmers.

We can confirm with certainty that at least four regions in the country have been affected by the army worm invasion.

By this release the Chamber is equally sending a strong caution to all agrochemical dealers in the country, not to take advantage of the situation to exploit the distressed farmers by inflating prices of their goods, as that would bring severe consequences on consumers and the country as a whole.

We are also calling on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to as a matter of urgency, incorporate measures in the government’s*PLANTING FOR FOOD AND JOBS CAMPAIGN* to avoid re-occurrence of above invasions in future.

Many institutions such as the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, ISSER, Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, Ghana Association of Farmers and Fishermen, Ghana Agricultural Chamber, Queen Mothers Associations, Ghana Agriculture Volunteers of Ghana, Federation of Young Farmers Ghana, at a recent youth forum organized by the University of Ghana School of Continuing and Distance Education, to discuss expectations of stakeholders on the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs program, unanimously agreed that the concept would pose great challenges in its implementation as enough stakeholder consultations were not done and called for review of the program in order to ensure its success.

One Major issue which has been overlooked in the program is *PEST CONTROL MECHANISMS AND POST HARVEST LOSES* and this we strongly urge the government to consider.

Finally the Chamber wishes to call on government to endeavor to provide financial assistance to all farmers taking part in the program to ensure its success.

We also call on the telecommunication companies in the country to help farmers by extending excellent network coverage to farming communities, so farmers can take advantage and benefit from many ICT agriculture based programs and most especially social media business and marketing drive information.

Food is essential to the development and security of any nation, hence the need to provide the maximum state interventions to arrest the rising cost of food in Ghana.

Signed
Anthony Selorm K Morrison
Executive President
Ghana Chamber of Agribusiness Executives
Tel: 0540742111
E-mail: theagribusinesschamber@gmail.com

 

Source: modernghana.com

On a South African farm, despair over armyworm attack

Armyworms are attacking maize plants at alarming speed on farms in South Africa.  By GULSHAN KHAN (AFP)

 

By Gregory WALTON

 

Onderstepoort (South Africa) (AFP) – Peeling back the maize plant’s leaves reveals a small brown caterpillar — an armyworm that writhes as it burrows into the heart of the crop, producing a sticky dark paste.

Eighty percent of the Prinsloo family’s maize plants are under attack, as are those of other farmers in Haakdoringboom, a farming community 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of South Africa’s capital Pretoria.

“These worms are eating everything that they touch,” said farmer Jacques Prinsloo, who held up a damaged leaf to demonstrate the alarming speed at which the fall armyworms devour the crop.

Leaves are shredded and residue speckles the inside of the plants — a tell-tale sign of trouble.

The recently-arrived pests, which are proving immune to existing pesticides, are devastating crops and threatening southern Africa’s fragile food supply having spread through Zambia and Zimbabwe as well as South Africa.

Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia are also reported to be affected by the worms.

They originate from South America and are thought to have arrived in Africa in shipments of plants or on commercial airliners, with the first fall armyworms in Africa seen in Nigeria and Togo last year.

“I tried everything on the market. I spent 45,000 rand ($3,400) on pesticides alone,” said Jacques, 24, who has been battling the pests for six weeks.

“Last year the drought, this year the worms, what next year? Everyone thinks it’s easy to farm. It seems easy until you start doing it.”

Jacques estimates that as many as four in five of his maize plants are affected.

‘We’re fighting’


Armyworm caterpillars eat the kernels of a cob of corn

If the crop fails entirely, he estimates it will cost his family up to 700,000 rand ($53,000) this year alone.

Crops in neighbouring farmers’ fields are also being ravaged by the pests, according to Adele who, along with her son Jacques, employs six staff on their roughly 100 hectare farm.

“We’re fighting. The farm next door to us is fighting,” said Adele.

Across southern Africa, fall armyworms are wreaking havoc with staple crops for the first time.

Key food sources like maize, wheat, millet and rice have all come under attack, raising fears of imminent mass food shortages.

Nearly 40 million people in southern Africa have been affected a two-year-long drought caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon reducing food availability by 15 percent, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

David Phiri, the FAO’s coordinator for southern Africa, warned experts at a crisis summit in Harare this week that the armyworm poses “a huge threat to food security”.

‘Hopeless, angry, heartbroken’


South African farmers are desperate for help to fight the armyworm pest

Despite their proximity to South Africa’s seat of power, the Prinsloos feel that their plight, and that of hundreds of other farmers, is being ignored by the government.

“I’m feeling hopeless, angry, heartbroken — it feels like I could go and sit and cry myself to death,” said 50-year-old Adele who has been involved in farming for nearly half her life.

“All the money and effort that’s been put in there and I’m getting no help.

“We were promised a visit by the farming minister on Sunday but they cancelled. Nobody is doing anything. They said they would import a poison from abroad but we’ve heard nothing.”

The region around the Prinsloo farm had only just begun to recover from one of the worst dry spells in recent history when the armyworms struck.

“A year ago we had the drought but then we had good rains. Now the worms are destroying the crop,” said Adele.

In one badly affected field, nearly every plant is showing signs of damage.

Looking out over his family’s fields, bordered by tracks of rich red earth and criss-crossed with mechanical irrigation systems, Jacques is doubtful there will be a quick solution to the crisis.

“(The plants) are not going to make corn because of the damage,” he said of this year’s crop. “The larvae is making new worms and you must fight them again. Burning it might be the only option.”

 

Source: modernghana.com

Crop-killing armyworms ‘threaten African harvests’

By: Alice TIDEY

 

London (AFP) – A plague of pests spreading in Africa threatens crop harvests and food supplies for millions of people, and may endanger farming worldwide, an international NGO warned Monday.

Two species of crop-destroying fall armyworm caterpillars have been confirmed in Ghana and could spread across mainland Africa, according to the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI).

They could also spread beyond to Asia and the Mediterranean basin, threatening huge losses for millions of farmers, the centre said in a statement.

“Urgent action will be needed to prevent devastating losses to crops and farmers’ livelihoods,” CABI chief scientist Matthew Cock said.

“This is the first time it has been shown that both species or strains are established on mainland Africa,” he added.

The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has called for an emergency meeting on the crisis later this month.

The armyworm caterpillar is an indigenous pest to the Americas, and it has previously been reported on the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe, according to the FAO, as well as being spotted in other southern African nations.

Now that it has been confirmed in Ghana, scientists from CABI expect it to spread to other African countries “within a few years”.


Essential for food security in large parts of Africa, maize is particularly vulnerable to the fall armyworm larvae, which burrow into the cobs

Threat to food security

Armyworm caterpillars have previously devastated vital crops such as maize, which is essential for food security in large parts of Africa.

The pest’s larvae, according to CABI, attack the crop’s growing points and burrow into the cobs.

Maize or corn accounts for almost 70 percent of total cereal production in southern Africa, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, with a large percentage grown directly for home consumption.

The pest is also known to have caused major damage to other economically important crops including rice, soybean and cotton.

Warning of the grave danger posed by the outbreak, the FAO on Friday announced an emergency regional meeting to be held on February 14-16 in Harare, after the pest was also identified in Zimbabwe.

“If the pest damage aggravates, it could dampen prospects for good crop harvests that is anticipated in the current farming season,” the agency said in a statement.

Southern African nations are already reeling from the impact of two years of drought, affecting over 40 million people and reducing food availability by 15 percent, the FAO said.

While CABI confirmed the presence of the pest in Ghana, the FAO said Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa may also be affected.

Zambia in December ordered the national air force into action to control the plague of pests.

While Zambia has already spent $3 million on efforts to fight the plague, the FAO said the full extent of the damage across the affected region is not yet known.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Crop-destroying armyworm ‘major threat’ to world farming: NGO

Essential for food security in large parts of Africa, maize is particularly vulnerable to the fall armyworm larvae, which burrow into the cobs.  By Jekesai NJIKIZANA (AFP/File)

 

London (AFP) – A crop-destroying caterpillar native to the Americas is “spreading rapidly” in Africa and threatens farming worldwide, the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) warned on Monday.

Two species of the fall armyworm, which can devastate maize production, have been found in Ghana, and could spread to Asia and the Mediterranean, according to the Britain-based not-for-profit group.

“This is the first time it has been shown that both species or strains are established on mainland Africa” CABI chief scientist Matthew Cock said after analysis was conducted in the group’s labs.

“Urgent action will be needed to prevent devastating losses to crops and farmers’ livelihoods,” he said.

Essential for food security in large parts of Africa, maize is particularly vulnerable to the larvae, which attack the crop’s growing points and burrow into the cobs.

Maize or corn accounts for almost 70 percent of total cereal production in southern Africa according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, with a large percentage grown directly for home consumption.

The pest is also known to have caused major damage to other economically important crops including rice, soybean and cotton.

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has announced an emergency regional meeting to be held on February 14-16 in Harare, Zimbabwe after the pest was also identified in southern Africa.

“Preliminary reports indicate possible presence (of the pest) in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe” FAO subregional coordinator for southern Africa, David Phiri, said in a statement last week.

Zambia has already spent $3 million (2.8 million euros) in an attempt to control the pest that has affected approximately 130,000 hectares (320,000 acres) of crops.

But the FAO emphasised that the full extent of the damage there and in other affected countries is yet to be established.

 

Source: modernghana.com