The Member of Parliament (MP) for Afram Plains South Constituency, Eric Osei-Owusu, is calling on the government to quickly act to control armyworms destroying farms in his area. According to the MP, he has visited about 20 farms which the worms have destroyed, leaving the farmers in a total state of confusion, as they weep over the investments made, but which have gone waste.
Speaking to The Chronicle yesterday, the MP, who is a member on the Committee of Food and Agriculture, called on the government, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, to adopt the necessary steps to prevent the worms from further destroying crops of the farmers.
He added that at a time when the ruling government was championing a campaign dubbed ‘Planting for Food and Jobs,’ it would be prudent if immediate steps are taken to curtail this menace on the farms at the Afram Plains South constituency. The control of the armyworm infestation, he said, would help ensure that there are no threats to food security.
“The worms are destroying the crops, and as a result, it obviously will affect the end of year yields, and for that matter, I want seize this opportunity to highlight this through the media for government to be aware, so that major steps will be taken to try and curb it,” he remarked.
The Ministry for Food and Agriculture and Plant Protection and Regulatory Services are the departments in charge of controlling pests of such nature, “and I think that they should be proactive in taking it up. Especially, when, as a country, we just launched ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’. If we do not control such menace, then I think that the efforts of our farmers and government would come to nothing, in terms of food production,” he warned.
The armyworm is a pest that destroys at a very high pace if not controlled, so the more we leave it, the more it destroys the farms, he further noted. The Afram Plains South constituency is more of a farming constituency, providing food for the country, thus the need to move to eradicate the pest from the farms.
The MP, having visited at least 20 farmers affected by this pest, expressed worry over the effects of the destruction of the crops to the farmers, his constituents, and, by extension, the country, as far as food security is concerned, while urging the appropriate authorities to act immediately.
The pests lay their eggs on the seedlings and leaves of plants, and within 5 to10 days tiny caterpillars hatch to launch a massive onslaught on food crops. They attack the leaves of crops, flowers and even stalk. They feed on several varieties crops, including staple foods, maize, cotton, soya bean, potato and the cash crop – cocoa.
The armyworm has destroyed farms in many African countries such as Nigeria and South Africa, among others. In Ghana, it has attacked farms in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, and Eastern regions, while spreading speedily to other parts of the country.
By Maxwell Ofori