Minister for Food and Agriculture Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto
More than 1,350 hectares of maize farms in the Central Region have been destroyed by army worms, the Finder newspaper has reported.
The Central Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) Mr Gershon Wodzrah has revealed, the devastation at the Regional Co-coordinating Council meeting with Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and Heads of Department in Cape Coast last Tuesday.
The state of the devastation equalling more than 1,300 international football fields signals the spread of infestation described as ‘an agricultural state of emergency’.
He disclosed, 19 districts in the region have reported cases of the invasion. Only one district has not reported the attack. More than two weeks ago, it was reported some 500 acres of maize farms in 13 districts in the Ashanti region have been destroyed.
Explaining the process of devastation, Mr Wodrah said it takes not more than three days for eggs laid by the worms on leaves to hatch.
Once the eggs become tiny caterpillars, a massive onslaught on food crops, flowers and stalk is launched.
They feed on several varieties of crops, including staple foods, maize, cotton, soya-beans, potatoes and cash crop like cocoa.
“What is more challenging is that the worms feed at night”, he added.
Mr. Wodrah described the army worms’ invasion as an “epidemic” threatening the country’s food security.
Government is playing catch-up after the Ministry for Food and Agriculture (MoFA) requested for emergency funds to respond to the invasion. It has set up a 16-member taskforce manage the invasion.
Only four out of 10 regions remain standing with Brong Ahafo, Eastern, Ashanti, Greater Accra, Western and Central regions all reporting cases.
It also could affect government’s flagship agricultural policy, Plant for Food and Job’ is aimed at boosting Ghana’s weak agriculture and generating incomes.
More than 3,480 farmers including 550 women have registered for the programme in the region.
Mr. Wodrah said MoFA had procured chemicals for intensive and sustained spraying exercise to the affected farms.