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FAO Partners with Government of Ghana to stem the menace of Fall Armyworm

FAW taskforce with sub-committee for awareness creation, surveillance, management and research and coordination

The food and agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is partnering with the Government of Ghana in an effort to stem the invasion of the Fall Armyworm (FAW).

The insect is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, and its larval stage feeds on more than 80 plant species, including maize, rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton.

FAW could cause significant yield losses if not well managed. It has a number of generations per year and the adult moth can be transported via winds to a distance exceeding 100 km per night.

At an inception workshop to introduce a technical support project aimed at restoring the productive capacity and enhanced livelihood of affected vulnerable households and conduct routine surveillance and management of the insect in the infested districts, the government of Ghana has called for a well-coordinated management regime, training programmes and development of early warning systems to contain the pest.

Dr. Sagre Bambangi, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in-charge of Annual Crops observed, it is anticipated that the successful implementation of the project will result in a sustainable approach to containing the current menace caused by the FAW.

He said the project would support field and technical staff of the Ministry, essentially the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services, extension agents and Statistics, Research and Information Directorate and other units in the Ministry.

Dr. Bambangi said government has already established a national FAW taskforce with sub-committee for awareness creation, surveillance, management and research and coordination. “The Ministry will put the resources available to support the implementation of the project for the benefit of the sector and urged all stakeholders to ensure the smooth running and completion of the project”, He added.

On his part the FAO Representative to Ghana, Dr. Abebe Haile-Gabriel announced that the FAO is developing a long-term Integrated Pest Management based strategy for the sustainable management of FAW, which includes forecasting, crop monitoring, the use of biological control options and resistance varieties, promotion of good agricultural practices and the use of pesticides as a last resort.

He said if not effectively managed, FAW would negatively impact and undermine the efforts of the government towards agricultural transformation including the flagship initiative on Planting for Food and Jobs, among others.

FAW was first reported on maize fields in Ghana in April, 2016 and quickly dispersed through to cover all the regions. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture reported that as at September 29, 2017, over 144,000 hectares of maize, sorghum, millet and rice farms across the country invaded by FAW has been sprayed, about 131,000 hectares recovered and 14,000 hectares destroyed. Most of the farms invaded mostly managed by smallholder family farmers and this increased the possibility of the livelihood of over 4 million farmers being threatened by the FAW invasion.

The FAO supported project - Emergency response for the Fall Armyworm outbreak in Ghana -  will address the technical issues with coordination and backstopping of local capacity to develop integrated pest management system, strengthen institutional capacity for tackling future anticipated emergencies and restore the productive capacities of vulnerable and worst affected farm families.