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General News of Wednesday, 23 August 2017


Government’s promise to eliminate armyworm is ‘panic reaction’ – Scientist

Government’s promise to eliminate the incidence of Fall Armyworm invasion is not realistic, Crop Scientist at the University of Cape Coast Dr. Michael OseiAdu has said.

Dr. Adu is also chastising the Ministry of Agriculture for what he says was a "panic reaction" to the Fall Armyworm invasion which has affected farms in all 10 regions of the country.

When the outbreak was first reported, the government announced the release of 16 million cedis for the purchase of chemicals for distribution to farmers as a move to control the pests.

But Dr. Michael Adu is not impressed. “This one, it seems to me it was more of a panic response. So, we have not taken the three things I pointed out earlier into consideration. Did we actually think of how they move, how they breathe and how they feed before fashioning out the policy? Because if we are just giving out chemicals for spraying, have there been training?” Dr. Adu quizzed.

“So the policy in itself, I won’t fault it but I think it’s been a panic response, it’s been adhoc and there hasn’t been adequate planning. And if we are not careful, the pests in Ghana, they are going to be resistant and they are going evolve,” he warned in an interview with Joy News’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo for the Hotline Documentary ‘Rampaging Soldiers’.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation has also warned Ghana against over reliance on pesticides to deal with the pests, saying it’s not sustainable.

“The main thing is to try to enhance biological control. The key recommendation is not to intervene too early with chemical products. Because if you intervene quickly with chemicals, you kill their natural enemies,” Director of Flour Production and Protection Division at FAO in Rome, Hans Dreyer told Joy News in an interview during a FAO meeting in Accra.

From an initial figure of 1,400 hectares of affected farmlands as at May this year, more than 112,000 hectares of farm fields had been invaded by the Fall Army worm pests. But the government has assured the country’s food security is not under threat.

Agric Minister Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto told Parliament recently that the pests have been defeated although farmer associations point to recent rains as the reason for the limited spread of the pests.

Experts say the damage this year by the pests is extensive because the chemicals applied last year could not kill the Fall Armyworms completely. Agric Minister Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto is promising an end to the invasion this time around with the chemicals that have been imported.

He told a media briefing in May: “The experience we gained from last year was that the army worm is very sensitive to the chemicals we applied and we are confident that once we have an adequate application, we will be able to eliminate the danger.”

But Crop Scientist at the University of Cape Coast Dr. Michael Osei Adu says that is not realistic although he would be happy to see an ideal situation as that.

“From where I sit, I think elimination will be quiet difficult. They have these strategies and characteristics that make it difficult to eliminate them. It’s very difficult if not impossible to get them out. They love the tropical, sub-tropical environments and so they are here to stay,” he said.

Dr. Adu believes the pests can at best be managed and not eliminated completely, pointing to their unique traits that make it difficult to control them.

“They reproduce quite quickly. An adult female can lay up to 1000 eggs in its life time. The eggs mature very quickly and within 10 days or so, we have the larvae that then begins to destroy crops,” he explained in an interview with Joy News.