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29 August 2017

Agric agencies need more resources to fight Armyworm – Scientists

The government has been urged to better resource agencies under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) if it is serious about avoiding another widespread destruction by the Fall Armyworm. 

Dr. Audrey Vanderpuye of the School of Agriculture at the University of Cape Coast says the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) under MOFA, in particular, deserves more money to help protect the country from such invasion.

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.

“The PPRSD which is supposed to be the national plant protection organisation must be resourced to do its work properly. Because the materials came through a consignment of goods. If they were well resourced, they would have determined it at the port before bringing it in. They will probably have contained it at the port,” Dr. Vanderpuye said in an interview with Joy News.

“So the PPRSD must be well resourced to do its work. There should be a surveillance team in the country and all they have to do is regularly monitor pests and relate them to the conditions of the environment so they can forecast whether there are likely to be outbreaks or not so farmers can put plans in place plans to manage them,” she added.

The first incidence of the pest in Africa was recorded in 2016 and has since spread like wild fire to more than 20 African countries including Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Kenya, among others.

Speaking to Joy News’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo for the Hotline Documentary ‘Rampaging Soldiers,’ Dr. Michael Osei Aduof the University of Cape Coast’s School of Agriculture also expressed worry over why officials at the country’s entry points could not work effectively to stop its entry.

“These pests have been classified according to the dangers they pose and Europe is able to intercept products that they believe have potential danger to their agriculture. What is the status quo at the port now in Ghana? Is it just you declaring what you are bringing in and somebody visually inspecting them? If that is the case, then that is not good enough…,” he noted.

“So we need to have the tools. If we even need to have some quick diagnostic materials and the training to be able to quickly check these things at the port that will be fine. Currently, the visual inspection is not good enough,” Dr. Adu noted.

Environmental and climatic analyses of Africa show that the Fall Armyworms are likely to build permanent and significant populations in West, Central and Southern Africa, and spread to other regions when weather or temperatures are favourable. But the government says it has directed research institutions to begin developing long term products that will help avoid a repeat of the invasion.

Watch Opoku Gakpo’s documentary in the video below.

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