General News of Thursday, 7 September 2017

Source: Myjoyonline.com

MP demands resignation of Agric Minister over armyworm invasion

Member of Parliament for Builsa South Clement Apaak is demanding the resignation of Agric Minister Dr. Akoto Owusu Afriyie.

According to him, contrary to claims by the Agric Minister that the Fall Armyworm invasion is over, “there is more than enough evidence in most farms in the northern parts of the country that the pests continue to devastate farms.”

From an initial infestation of 1,400 hectares earlier this year, the pests have infected more than 112,000 hectares of farm lands.

But the Minister told Parliament in August that the pests have been defeated and that the country’s food security is intact.

Brandishing pictures of the worms on some farms which Dr. Apaak says are in his constituency, he noted: “I think the minister has been untruthful. He has been deceptive. It is important that he resigns…. He is even in contempt of Parliament… He has lost credibility because the armyworm is alive and well on the farms.”

The Agric Ministry has insisted there are enough chemicals in the country for all farmers whose fields have been affected by the pests. 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 the Builsa South MP claims most farmers in the northern part of the country have not received any chemicals and are struggling to keep their fields safe from destruction.

“There is no community I have visited that I have not cited armyworm. The minister for agric peddled falsehood to Parliament when he appeared before us… not only are the worms alive, they continue to ravage food crops in the northern part of the country… Farmers don’t have even one iota of the so called chemicals,” he claimed.

Dr. Apaak says farmers are helpless, feel disappointed in how the government responded to the pest invasion and are worried they may struggle to get food to eat later this year.“The worm is consuming other known crops, not only the maize alone. ….the women are beginning to panic because they are not getting enough vegetables to use for food,” he added.

The Builsa South MP’s demand is coming at a time when the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) is claiming victory in the ongoing fight against the invasion of Fall Armyworms in the northern part of the country.

MOFA claims in most parts of the Upper East Region where the Youth In Agriculture Program (YIAP) Division of the ministry is undertaking cultivation of huge acres of maize under the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) campaign, the farms look fresh and greeny with farmers expecting to reap bumper harvests.