Fall Army Worms (FAW) have resurfaced and are wreaking havoc on large hectares of farms in the North East Region, in spite of the government’s interventions to contain the worms in the country.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) last month announced that it had triggered interventions to contain the FAW, but checks by the Daily Graphic have revealed that the invasive worms have made dramatic advances across the region, destroying large acres of maize farms which are a source of livelihood for the rural farmers.
The small, yet devastating worms, have left many smallholder farmers who are predominantly into maize cultivation on the brinks of ruin and fighting for their survival because they have nothing else to hold on to.
The Daily Graphic on a tour of some fields at the weekend saw that the worms had ruined crops, with some of the worms seen wedged between the nodes of the plants.
Some of the farms cultivated early during the planting season had completely been ravaged by the FAW, compelling the farmers to clear the crops and plant legumes such as soya beans and groundnuts.
Other farmers whose crops had not been completely destroyed had sprayed their fields.
Checks by the Daily Graphic revealed that close to 2,000 acres of maize farms were currently under attack, with the Bunkpurugu District, the East Mamprusi and the West Mamprusi municipalities being severely affected.
While some of the farmers raised concern that they were unable to access enough of the chemicals supplied by the government to spray all their farms, the district MoFA officials, on the other hand, indicated that due to the large number of farmers, the maximum number of farmlands they could support was five acres.
A farmer at Langbinsi in the East Mamprusi municipality, Mr Yakubu Apouri, whose 15 acres of maize field had been destroyed by the worms, lamented that “the FAW have really caused havoc to my farms and when I go for the insecticide they don’t give me enough”.
His hope, he said, had been to recover from last year’s loss to the army worm invasion but, unfortunately, this year the devastation had been very massive.
Mr Apouri appealed to the government to develop proactive measures to fight the worms, instead of the current approach of supporting farmers which, according to him, was not enough, saying that “the solution is for the government to work towards finding a remedy to end the perennial attacks on farms”.
Another farmer at Gbankoni in the Bunkpurugu/Nakpanduri District, Mr Kombat Amadu, who had had his 10 hectare maize farm attacked by the stubborn worms, told the Daily Graphic that “that is the only farm I have cultivated and the livelihood of my family depends on the farm, but now I don’t have any turning point”.
One concern raised by almost all the farmers visited during the tour was the need for the government to compensate farmers who had all their farms completely ravaged.
They also appealed for the early supply of pesticides to the district extension offices for onward distribution to farmers.
The worm invasion situation was not different in the Bunkpurugu/Nakpanduri District, where many cases had been recorded.
However, the farmers had not been able to access insecticides from extension officers because the chemicals had not been dispatched to the District MoFA Office yet.
The Bunkpurugu/Nakpanduri District Director of MoFA, Mr Sualey Abukari, said about 64 farmers in 19 different communities in the district had reported the incident to his outfit as of last week.
“For now, we are only giving them technical advice and asking them to get chemicals from the market because we have applied for chemicals but they are not yet in. We embark on radio and community sensitisation with the support of some non-governmental organisations (NGO),” he said.
“The chemicals are usually given to smallholder farmers because we cannot meet all the demands of commercial farmers,” he added.
Distribution of insecticides
In the East Mamprusi and West Mamprusi municipalities, farmers whose farms had been invaded by the FAW had started trooping to the MoFA offices for chemicals to spray their farms.
The East Mamprusi Municipal Director of MoFA, Mr Zakaria Hamidu, advised the farmers to consider purchasing some of the approved chemicals from the market because the ones distributed by the government could not meet their demands.