The Ministry of Food and Agriculture says it has shifted its focus from synthetic insecticides to bio-rational products, for the management of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation, as part of its short, medium and long-term management measures.
The focus on bio-rational products is to ensure minimum pest resistance by the FAW, which is higher with the use of synthetic insecticides.
Dr Mrs Felicia Ansah, Director of Plant Protection and Regulatory Services at MoFA, said this when she briefed Journalists on the current situation of the FAW problem.
She noted that the FAW had come to stay, as it could not be completely eradicated but managed, as in the case of Brazil, which had been managing the FAW infestation for the past 40 years, and was currently one of the biggest exporters of maize.
Ghana had thus modelled its management measures after the Brazilian experience.
These measures, she said, include the deployment of pheromone trap catches in various locations across the country to ascertain the levels of infestation, training of MoFA staff and farmers on scouting, early detection and sustainable management of the pest in the event of an outbreak.
She explained that the best way to manage the infestation on farms was to detect the pests early at the larvae stage, and not when they became full grown moths. That is when they did the most damage to crops.
Other measures being undertaken by the Ministry are the distribution of pesticides to all district offices in the country where farmers can access in FAW infestations, the formation and training of Nnoboa Spraying Teams in farming communities and intensification of public awareness creation for farmers and the general public.
According to Dr Ansah, Ghana had commenced scouting of natural enemies of the FAW, which once identified, will be reared to help reduce the population of the pests.
“In the long term, only biological control agents, microbial insecticides and botanicals/organic products will be used to manage FAW in Ghana,” she said.
She said a total of 249,054 hectares of maize were affected and sprayed, out of which 234,807 hectares recovered and 14, 247 totally destroyed in the previous season, adding that there was a likelihood for more infestations in the 2018 farming season.
Dr Ansah stressed the need for the media to be circumspect in how they reported issues around the FAW infestation as it had implications for trade.
She urged the media to collaborate with the Ministry to educate farmers on how to manage the FAW.
She said the pockets of FAW infestations being currently experienced in some districts in the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Eastern, Volta and Western Regions had been blown out of proportion as it was a pre-season production infestation.
“We would like you to appreciate that this is a Phytosanitary or Public Plant Health Issue, with trade implications and must be communicated in a professional manner. Media coverage should rather be geared towards improving the knowledge and skills of our farmers,” she said.