Helpless farmers using ‘Omo’ and pepper to fight armyworms – Report

General News of Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Source: theheraldghana.com

2017-07-19

Armyworm InvasionFile photo: Armyworm

Programme Officer of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), has revealed that, its members are currently using detergent –Omo mixed with vegetable- chili pepper, to fight armyworms which has invaded the maize, cowpea and cocoa farms across the country with famine looming.

The worms, have attacked over 112,8000 hectares of farm lands devouring completely over 14,000 farms across the country, and government is looking helpless, because the chemicals bought by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for over GH¢20 million are said not be working as was reported by The Herald, on Monday.

At least four million farmers, have been affected by the attack and growing even more weary each passing day.

“In Tumu farmers have started using detergents -Omo [washing powder]- and mixing it with pepper to spray their farms; and it is working for them, Charles Koweh Nyaaba has said.

“According to them [farmers], that is what they are doing and it is more effective than the chemicals that the government is supplying to them,” he stated on the Super Morning Show, last Monday.

The Herald on Monday, reported how the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, has been hit with a GH¢20million debt scandal, following the ministry’s decision to hastily procure chemicals under sole-sourcing to fight the invasion of armyworms in affected farms in parts of the country.

The chemicals, according to The Herald’s reliable sources, are ineffective as far as the fight against the dangerous worms is concerned. They are said to be for the treatment of wood and not worms as the ministry, will want to have everybody believe.

One of the chemicals called, Dursban, is used to kill termites and other wood eating bugs insects, not armyworms. This according to insiders, is not helping the fight against the Armyworms invasion, because the wrong agro chemicals are being applied by the National Taskforce.

The worms are said to be wrecking more havoc in many farms across the country, while the minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, is reportedly on official visit to Brazil.

Since March this year, the pests have destroyed more than 1370 hectares of maize, cowpea and cocoa farms.

The Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and Western Regions, are the most affected areas.

Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, while in opposition, lambasted every Agric Minister in the John Mahama government on everything agriculture and food calling them “incompetent”, but since the sector was handed to him, he has been found wanting, and failing to fix what he gravely criticized.

The Ministry, allegedly bought the wrong chemicals through sole-sourcing arrangement, a practice the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and it flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, now president campaigned against.

Meanwhile, a lecturer at the Agric Department of the University of Ghana (UG), has urged the Agric Ministry to, as a matter of urgency, stop farmers from using self-made concoctions to fight the rampaging fall army worms.

Dr Irene Agyiri, said while these concoctions may yield short term good results, the medium to long term implications, could be disastrous not just for the sector, but also for humans as well.

She was reacting to reports that, farmers have resorted to mixing detergents and pepper to spray farms taken over by the fall army worms.

The worms, have attacked over 112,000 hectares of farm lands devouring completely over 14,000 farms.

At least four million farmers, have been affected by the attack and growing even more weary each passing day.

The attack is threatening Ghana’s food security, but officials of the Ministry of Agric say, they have the attack under control.

They have distributed some chemicals to farmers across the country, as a first measure to solving the canker.

But Dr Irene Agyiri, insists the issue of the concoction, must be taken seriously.

Whilst, she understands the frustrations the farmers are going through and the desire to salvage the huge investment that has gone into the farming season, she would not recommend the use of the detergents.

“We don’t know the residue levels of these concoctions,” she said, hinting further, it may have health implications.

Dr Agyiri, called on the ministry to mobilize and resource district managers of Agric to embark on serious educational campaigns to fight the canker.

Fall armyworm moths, are attracted to extremely late planted corn, which normally can sustain considerable damage from this pest.

The fall armyworm moth, which is a new kind of worm, is believed to spread quickly in farms and has disastrous consequences to crops, especially maize.

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