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Delay in distribution of chemicals hampered Armyworm fight – Agric Ministry

 

October 4, 2017

 

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The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has identified delays in distribution of chemicals as a key challenge that hampered efforts to deal with Fall Armyworm invasion.

 

The ministry has also identified inadequate human resource and knowledge on the pests as other key challenges that have hampered the fight against the pests.

 

“The challenges faced in the management of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) include absence of functional Task Force in most of the MMDAs for effective coordination of FAW management activities; inadequate human resources to monitor the strategies to manage the pest; and the delay in distributing the insecticides from the Regions to the districts,” a situational report on the Fall Armyworm invasion situation by the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate of MOFA dated 29th September, 2017 said.

 

 

According to MOFA, the pests have so far affected 115,000 hectares of farm fields across all the ten regions of the country. Agric Minister Dr. Akoto Owusu Afriyie, however, says the pests have been defeated and will not negatively impact the country’s food security.

 

 

Below are details of the document intercepted by Joy news.

SITUATIONAL REPORTM OF FALL ARMYWORM

 

Introduction

Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), FAW, is an insect native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. Its larval stage is polyphagous and feeds on more than 80 plant species, including maize, rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton. FAW can cause significant yield losses if not well managed. It can have a number of generations per year and the adult moth can fly up to 100 km per night.

 

The Fall Army Worm (FAW) was first reported on maize in the Yilo Krobo district of the Eastern Region on April, 2016 and has quickly dispersed through all the regions in Ghana where it feeds mainly on maize and other crops such as sorghum, millet, okro, rice etc. across thousands of hectares of land mostly managed by smallholder family farmers.

 

Road Map

Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) in collaboration with CABI and other stakeholders in April, 2017 developed short, medium and long terms action plans for sustainable management of the pest.

 

Cabinet Support

The Hon. Minister submitted memorandum to Cabinet for the release of GHS15, 857,280.00 for the following activities:

  1. Collaboration and Co-ordination
  2. Training of the staff and farmers
  3. Sensitization and awareness creation
  4. Developing and printing factsheets (photo sheets and flyers on FAW)
  5. Surveillance at Community and national levels.
  6. Monitoring of Control and Management activities
  7. Procurement of strategic stock of insecticides

 

Ministerial Taskforce

The Hon. Minister constituted and inaugurated a 16 man - National Taskforce on 10 May, 2017 made up of senior staff of MoFA (PPRSD, Vet, PCU, DAES) with the Hon Deputy Minister as chair, with members drawn from a number of institutions for a more multi-sectoral approach.

 

These institutions were:

1.         National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO)

2.         Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

3.         Council for Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR)

4.         Developmental Partners e.g. USAID, DFID

5.         Local Government Services

6.         Agribusinesses and Farmers’ Representatives

 

The National Taskforce was further organized around three key thematic areas as sub-committees namely:

  1. Collaboration, Co-ordination and Contingency   Planning Sub-committee
  2. Sensitization and Awareness creation Sub-committee
  3. Surveillance, Management and Research Sub-committee

 

Fall Armyworm situation

The outbreak of the FAW in the country was initially sporadic and at a low level of severity. However, as the season progresses its incidence escalated and eventually spreading all over in districts thereby engulfing the entire country. The fields of few farmers who failed to manage the FAW early enough were destroyed. The fields planted early were able to escape the FAW damage. Some farmers planted early maturing maize variety and damage on these varieties was insignificant.

 

Currently, FAW situation in all the districts is under control though there are isolated cases of infestations on maize crops at knee high, tasseling and cobing stages.

 

Interventions

  • Sensitization and awareness creation

Radio and TV talk shows were organized across the country to sensitize and create the awareness of the prevalence of the pest and the consequences on the economy and the livelihood of the farm families.

 

Farmers in most farming communities were sensitized through local information centers, fora, meetings, farm visits and some cases during church services.

 

The ministry’s mobile vans were used in some districts to sensitize and educate the farmer

 

Jingles developed in English and 6 local languages including Twi, Fante, Ewe, Ga, Adangbe, Dagbani and Dagaare were played on 43 radio stations across the country. The regions and the districts were provided with the jingles to be played in the farming communities using mobile vans

 

The ministry has paid for air time for playing the jingles at Unique FM (Aug.-Oct) and Peace FM (Aug-Nov.) to supplement the free air time provided by the radio stations as part of their social responsibilities.

 

The air time is paid for TV (UTV, TV3, Adom TV and GTV) and Radio (Peace, Asempa, Adom, Joy, City and Unique FM Stations) talk shows which will commence in 2nd week in October, 2017.

  • Printing of education materials

 Education materials were printed and distributed to the farmers and the general public. The materials and detailed quantities are as follows:

1. Early signs of FAW A2 posters - 77,000 pieces

2. Signs and symptoms of FAW A2 posters -40,000 pieces

3. Management of FAW A2 posters - 40,000 pieces

The printing of 120,000 flyers is almost complete. 

  • Capacity Building

Training of Trainers workshop on early detection and management of FAW was organized for 216 MoFA drawn from all the districts throughout the country.

 

The beneficiaries of the training had trained farmers in their respective districts on early detection and management of FAW

 

Plant Doctors continuously train farmers who visited the plant clinic sessions.

 

All Regional PPRS Officers have been trained on scouting, setting up pheromone traps and collecting data on trap catches.

 

USAID ADVANCE Project in collaboration with MoFA has trained 711 Spray Service Providers to provide effective control of FAW in the three northern regions.

 

Selected spraying gangs in Ashanti and Eastern regions were trained in spraying techniques and early detection of FAW.

  • Monitoring/Scouting

The key to FAW control is early detection and most of the farmers started applying control measures when the large holes accompanied by larval droppings (frass) are noticed in the whorls and on surrounding leaves. At this latter stage the caterpillars usually hide deep in the whorls during the day but emerge at night to feed on the leaves and it is too late to manage.

 

The farmers were advised to regularly monitor their fields for signs and symptoms of FAW one week after germination for effective control

 

They were trained to look for light green to dark brown caterpillars with dark head and a distinct inverted Y-shaped marking on the face between the eyes and four black spots aligned in a square at the last but one segment (near the tail).

 

The farmers were trained to check the underside of leaves and the growing point for FAW caterpillars and saw dust-like frass (faecal matter).

 

Finally, they were trained to look for patches of small “window pane” holes to large ragged and elongated holes in the leaves emerging from the whorl.

  • Agronomic Practices

The agronomic practices some farmers adopted to manage FAW include:

  1. Gathering and burning all stubbles after harvest
  2. Planting early in the season and also plant early maturing varieties
  3. Rotate with non-host crops (e.g. Cassava, cowpea, Yam)
  4. Plough and harrowing old affected fields to bury or expose larvae and pupae to predators and sun heat.
  5. Regularly weed the farm and its surroundings
  6. Handpicking egg masses and larvae and squash them
  7. Uproot and burn infested plants
  • Insecticides control

 

The short term measure used to manage the outbreaks of the FAW was the use of synthetic, organic/botanical and biological insecticides. Currently, no insecticide in Ghana is registered for the control of FAW. The Ministry therefore recommended insecticides registered in Ghana that are also registered for the control of FAW in Brazil and/or recommended for FAW control of selected US States and other African countries.

 

The insecticides were further recommended based on Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) Mode of action classification Scheme for an effective and sustainable insecticide resistance management (IRM) strategy.  These recommended insecticides are listed in Table 1 below:

 

Table 1: Recommended insecticides

Acetamiprid + Cypermethrin Flubendiamide+ Thiacloprid
Azadirachtin Imidacloprid
Bacillus thuringiensis(BT) Imidacloprid + Beta-cyfluthrine
Chlorpyrifos +Deltamethrin Imidacloprid + Bifenthrin
Chlorpyrifos + Lambda-cyhalothrin Imidacloprid + Emamectin Benzoate  
Cypermethrin + Dimethoate Indoxacarb +Acetamiprid
Emamectin Benzoate Lambda-cyhalothrin + Acetamiprid
Emamectin Benzoate + Acetamiprid Lambda-cyhalothrin + Thiomethoxan
Endozacarb +Acetamiprid Maltodextrin
Ethyl Palmitate + Ethyl Oleate+ Elcosen Spinosad
Flubendiamide+ Spirotetramat

 

As a result of the magnitude of the outbreaks, insecticides were procured by the ministry distributed to the farmers to bring the population down before supplementing it with other control options. The type of insecticides the ministry procured and distributed to the smallholder farmers are indicated in Table 2.

 

Table 2: Type of insecticides distributed to smallholder farmers

No. Company Trade Name Active ingredient
1.0 Abnark Agro Services Bypel 1 Bacillus thuringiensis
2.0 B. Kaakyire Agro Chemicals Pyrinex Quick 256 EC Chlorpyrifos +Deltamethrin
Pyrinex Quick 424 EC Chlorpyrifos +Deltamethrin
Emastar 112 EC Emamectin Benzoate+ Acetamiprid
3.0 Agrimat Ltd Attack 1.9EC  Emamectin Benzoate
4.0 Calli Ghana Ltd Viper 46 EC Acetamiprid  + Indoxacarb
5.0 Chemico Ltd Chemiprid Acetamiprid + Cypermethrin
KD-215 Chlorpyrifos + Lambda-cyhalothrin
6.0 Enepa Ventures Super Top Lambda-cyhalothrin+ Acetamiprid
Condifor Imidacloprid
7.0 Jeloise Co. Ltd Neem Azal Azadirachtin
8.0 Kwadutsa & Joam Ltd Adepa Ethyl Palmitate + Ethyl Oleate+ Elcosen
9.0 Matrix Innovation Agoo Bacillus thuringiensis
10.0 Positive Agro Solutions Eradicot T Maltodextrin
11.0 RMG Ltd Efforia 45 SC Lambda-cyhalothrin + Thiomethoxan
12.0 Wynca Sunshine Agric. Products Best Farmer Emamectin Benzoate

 

The regional distribution of insecticides the potential area to spray are indicated in Table 3.

Table 3: Insecticides distribution as at 29/09/2017

Region Insecticides supplied Potential Area (Ha)
Lit Kg
Ashanti  28,170 1,707 70,100
Brong Ahafo 27,906 1,282 90,949
Central 4,358 243 14,792
ER 8,208 437 27,762
Greater Accra 2,140 276 5,131
Northern 17,972 1,120 44144
Upper East 9,040 508 24,415
Upper West 9,712 1,008 23,874
Volta 5,393 187 13,371
Western 2,660 60 8,030
Total 115,559 6,828 322,568

The total area sprayed with the insecticides 29 September, 2017 is indicated in Table 4.

 

Table 4: Total area sprayed as at 29 September, 2017

REGION SEASON CROP AFFECTED TOTAL AREA SPRAYED (HA) TOTAL AREA RECOVERED (HA) TOTAL AREA DESTROYED  (HA)
Ashanti Major Maize 48,204 38,906 9,298
Minor Maize 4,037 4,037 0
Brong Ahafo Major Maize 42,716 42,211 505
Minor Maize 1,187 1,187 0
Central Major Maize 6,159 4,795 1,364
ER Major Maize 12,789 11,199 1,590
GAR Major Maize 1,739 1,676 63
NR Major Maize 3,625 3,160 465
UER Major Maize / millet sorghum /rice 9,301 9,301 342
UWR Major Maize / sorghum 9,413 9,349 64
VR Major Maize 3,408 3,378 30
WR Major Maize 2,378 1,852 526
TOTAL 144,956 131,051 14,247

 

Some of the commercial farmers and other smallholder farmers bought the recommended insecticides to supplement the quantities distributed by the ministry.

The interventions have brought the fall armyworm situation in all the districts under control though there were isolated cases of infestations. Unlike FAW in the Americas, or the African Armyworm, FAW in Ghana may not develop a migratory pattern. Most likely the populations will be resident, surviving on weeds and other plants during periods without maize. The sensitization, awareness creation, surveillance, scouting and other interventions are therefore on-going to ensure sustainable management of the FAW.

 

FIELD OBSERVATIONS

The observations in the smallholders’ maize fields with regard to the FAW management include the following:

  1. Most farmers were able to determine infestations at the stage when large holes accompanied by large frass were noticed in the whorls and on surrounding leaves.
  2. Most farmers rarely monitored and scouted their fields for early detection of the FAW.
  3. Most major season infested fields were ploughed for minor season cropping
  4. The weather was not conducive to gather and burn all crop residues of the previous cropping prior to ploughing.
  5. Plots  close to major season infested fields were ploughed for minor season cropping
  6. Farmers were not spraying few infested plants after tasseling and cobing stages due to the close canopy and the height of the plants
  7. There was a difficulty in controlling FAW in large scale farms using boom sprayers considering the habitat of the insect. It was extremely difficult to spray the fields with knapsack sprayers.
  8. The vast majority of maize smallholder farmers do not spray pesticides in their maize fields. Some farmers, therefore, collected insecticides not for immediate use/ or for other purposes.
  9. Most farmers started control measures when the FAW larvae were big enough to be identified and were too late to manage especially when the insects were hiding inside the whorls of the plants.
  10. Most farmers use a wrong nozzle and apply the insecticides at the time the insects were inside the whorl of the plant (11:00-16:00 Hrs)
  11. Some farmers were not delivering the spray into the whorl of the plant
  12.  Some Farmers were applying cocktail of pesticides e.g. mixing herbicides, insecticide, neem extract and fertilizer / mixing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) with other insecticides.
  13. Pesticide containers management was problem in some fields visited
  14. Volunteer crops/plants and/or alternative hosts were not removed to reduce carryover of larvae populations from the major season to the minor season. Volunteer maize crops on the new ploughed fields therefore served as breeding grounds for FAW and attacked newly planted crops.

 

SURVEILLANCE

The key to FAW control is early detection and by the time the FAW larvae are big enough to be identified, it is too late to manage. The early detection of FAW infestations requires the use of pheromone traps and field scouting. MoFA in collaboration with USAID ADVANCE Project therefore set up and collected data from pheromone traps placed in some of the districts visited. More traps are being imported for nationwide surveillance to give early warning based on the trap catches and informed decision making.

 

CHALLENGES

The challenges faced in the management of the FAW include:

  • Absence of functional Task Force in most of the MMDAs for effective coordination of FAW management activities.
  • Inadequate human resources to monitor the strategies to manage the pest.
  • The delay in distributing the insecticides from the Regions to the districts
  • Inadequate knowledge in spraying techniques - timing /targeting the pest and use of unsuitable application equipment and the nozzle
  • Inadequate knowledge in early detection of FAW infestations.
  • Weak reporting systems on levels of infestation at the farming communities in the districts.
  • Inadequate logistics including strong vehicles and funds to monitor fall armyworms management.
  • Farmers were not frequently scouting their maize fields after planting and fertilizer application.
  • Some farmers used the insecticides to spray their vegetable fields because they were not used to spraying maize fields.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • The inputs supplied under planting for food and jobs should include insecticides and herbicides.
  • The strategic stock of insecticides for the control of calamity pest should be delivered to strategic locations in the region prior to planting.
  • The insecticides should be packaged in smaller quantities for safe application.
  • The key to effective management of FAW is early detection. Therefore the farmers and AEAs should be continuously trained identifying egg masses, early detection of the presence of FAW.
  • There is the need to build the capacity of farmers and Agric. Extension Agents on the key concepts of FAWs biology and ecology and best practices for its management. Massive roll-out of a learning, training, and communications programme will be necessary, principally through village meetings, Farmer Field Schools, Plant Health Clinics, national extension programmes and mass communication campaigns.
  • The districts should to be supported to play the Jingles and show video on FAW in most of the farming communities using mobile vans and local information Centres.
  • The Regional and District Directors should be continuously supported to frequently monitor the pockets of infestations and management of FAW

 

WAY FORWARD

  • Establish a national pest surveillance system to provide early warning and the emergency response required.
  • Establish a strategic stock of pesticides in the regions
  • Comprehensive assessments of the efficacy of registered insecticides for efficient management of FAW.
  • The need to identify diversity of natural enemies in country, determine efficacy, produce and release for biological control. When gaps exist, investment should be made in classical biocontrol for some species that have been proven to be effective against FAW. These include Telenomus remus, Trichogramma pretiosum, Chelonus insularis, Cotesia marginiventris.
  • Research into an integrated approach to management of the pest.
  • Manage FAW with environmentally friendly products e.g. botanicals, organic and biopesticides
  • The districts to establish at least four (4) permanent spraying gangs to control pockets of FAW infested plants from seedling to reproductive stage.
  • Establishment of functional task forces in all the districts to coordinate the management of FAW.
  • Farmers should include management of FAW as part of their production cost.
  • Farmers should practice crop rotation to avoid using the same field for both minor and major seasons cropping.

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