MAIZE and cocoa production in the Ashanti region this year is under serious threat following a widespread fall armyworm invasion of farms in the region.
Confirming the outlook to The Finder in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional Director of Agriculture, Joseph Faalong, noted that about 500 acres of maize farms in 13 of the 30 administrative districts in the region have reportedly been destroyed since last week.
Mr. Faalong described the pests as ferocious and that attacking them requires tact otherwise their eradication from the system could be difficult.
The Regional Agric Director noted that spraying the fall armyworm is not an option for now since spraying with chemicals could as well negatively affect the environment.
Additionally, the fall armyworms are migratory and that there is a need for cross border collaborative efforts of governments of Ghana and her neighbouring countries to develop the most effective and pragmatic strategies to tackle them.
Mr. Faalong said already, his outfit is working closely with other state agencies such as the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to devise a means of stopping further invasion of the worms.
He said the problem has been brought to the attention of the Minister of Food and Agric and that the situation is receiving the needed attention.
The Afigya Kwabre District Director of Agric, Peter Kwaku Amoako, said the fall armyworms were first detected in that district during the minor maize growing season last year saying that they attack both maize and rice and in, certain cases, cocoa farms.
Mr Amoako said with the support of the District Assembly, the district directorate of agric has since been taking steps, including spraying the affected farms, with the aim of eradicating the pest but the invasion is persisting.
In the Asante Akyem North district, an expatriate farmer is said to have lost about 200 hectares of his irrigated maize farm to the fall armyworms in August last season.
When contacted, a source at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture confirmed that indeed, the Minister was aware of the pest invasion, adding that it was being treated by Cabinet as an emergency situation and for which reason government is likely to soon roll out a programme to stop further crop attacks throughout the country.
Source: Adwoa Okyere DARKO || The Finder, Kumasi