Over ten farmers from various parts of Sissala East Municipal and Sissala West District have reported the resurfacing of fall armyworm infestation on maize farms, destroying large quantities of the cereal crop.
The emergence of the fall armyworms in farming communities with their feeding characteristics of ravaging crops, especially maize, are being blamed for the reduction in harvests.
Most farmers would prefer to plant their crops before the end of the month of June but irregular rainfall pattern this year has disrupted schedules of farmers.
Mr Clement Kawuribe, the Sissala East Municipal Director of Department of Agriculture in Tumu, told the Ghana News Agency that the affected farmers have been asked to report to the Department for immediate release of chemicals to tackle the situation.
“When they detected the fall armyworm presence on their fields, Mr Samuel Akwetteh, the Crops Officer, advised them immediately spread the news to the media houses,” he said.
He said there were leftovers of last year’s pesticides which could be used to contain the situation at the district level.
“Spray gangs have been trained in the communities to help farmers especially women to spray their farms,” he said: “We shall immediately assist those affected farms”.
A three-acre field of maize farm which belongs to Mr Samadu Sulanwia from Chinchang is among the invaded farms visited by the GNA on 24th June 2019 that showed an infested maize field going waste.
Mr Samadu explained the crops were planted on 1st, 2nd and 4th June 2019 adding: “I’m unhappy about what is happening at the farm because my investment is likely to go waste and I may not get TZ (maize flour) to eat this year because the worms are about to destroy all my crops”.
Several farmers from both Sissala East and West have visited local media houses including radio stations to highlight the state of their farms.
Communities affected include among others; Kowie, Lilixia, kong, Tumu and Mwanduanu, which have all reported the attack to agriculture officials, according to the farmers.
Mr. Samadu said he took notice of the worms just a day before and went to report to Ministry of Food and Agric (MOFA) in Tumu.
He was later given three litres of ‘ADEPA Agro Organic Pesticides’ to control the fall armyworm on his farm.
Research has shown that the fall armyworm has a desirous appetite and feeds on more than 80 plant species, including maize, sorghum, peanut, soybean, millet, rice, vegetable crops, among others.
The worm can reproduce and spread quickly given the right environmental conditions.
Though fall armyworms can damage corn plants in nearly all stages of its development, it will concentrate on later plantings that have not yet silked.
The fall armyworm feeds superficially on one side of the leaf and the young worm caterpillar uses ballooning (spread by the wind on a thread of silk)) to spread to new host plants.
One worm egg batch contains many eggs for one plant and ballooning always occurs soon after hatching.
Farmers have, therefore, been encouraged to look out for the pest on their farms by regularly visiting their farms after the seeds begin to germinate.