…May lose N360bn in 2018
Steve Agbta [email protected] 08033302331
Fall ArmyWorm (FAW) is regarded as one of the most destructive insect pests that attack crops each planting season especially maize. The pest has been reported in 46 of Africa’s 54 countries.
In 2015, the pest was confirmed to have spread to some agrarian states in Nigeria, where it ravaged farmlands and destroyed crops mostly maize farms in that year. Farmers lost billions of naira as they struggled to contain the pest.
Ironically between 2016 and 2017, the pest had spread across no fewer than 26 states in the country, ravaging maize farms in the affected states and posing huge threat to food security especially among smallholder farmers.
Since appearing on the African continent it has already caused more than $13 billion in crop losses and could continue to cost $6 billion loss a year if not properly contained.
Experts have warned Nigerian farmers to be at alert in their farms, as early tackling of armyworm will save them from losing between N360 to N400 billion in the 2018 planting season.
They opined the potential impact of the Fall armyworm as a major food security and economic risk for African nations cannot be overstated, particularly those in sub-saharan Africa. Therefore, governments and stakeholders must look for ways of containing the pest mostly among the smallholder farmers.
Already, governments of various countries around the world have been spending millions of dollars to find lasting solutions to the armyworm syndrome in order to avoid food insecurity and economy risk.
Daily Sun learnt that Brazil alone spends a staggering $600 million controlling armyworm. Armyworm is a very deleterious pest, capable of destroying entire crops in a matter of weeks. The larvae feed on all types of grasses, early stages of cereal crops (e.g., corn, rice, wheat, millet, sorghum) sugar cane, and occasionally on coconut.
Experts also revealed that If proper control measures are not implemented, the Fall armyworm could cause extensive maize yield losses of up to $6.2 billion per year in just 12 countries in Africa, which poses a significant threat to the food security, income and livelihoods of over 350 million African smallholder farm families that consume maize as a staple crop.
Speaking with Daily Sun, an Agric Business Coach, AfricanFarmer Mogaji, said that most Nigerian farmers are facing the war of armyworm because they are not adherent to instructions and buying cheap chemicals, which have no effect on the pest.
On what farmers need to do to contain the pest, he said the most efficient strategy for now was for farmers to use premium chemical and not necessarily going for the cheap one, adding that the ones that are really working are the premium chemicals.
He said: “there are some chemicals that are effectively taking care of armyworm, and that a litre of it cost about N10,000. However, the other chemicals sold at N1000 and N1200, when farmers use that one, that have to include potency to it. But other chemicals like sharpshooter, if they use it, it will take care of armyworm. These chemicals are proven to be taking care of armyworm over the years.
“Armyworm is not new. As at 1995, there was army worm. I have experienced armyworm before. It is not anything new.
What farmers need to is to just adherent to instructions as there is no big deal with army worm. All those biological control maybe okay but they are not practical. The biological control may incur additional cost, which farmers can not afford because nobody is helping them anywhere.
The Executive Director, GoGreen Africa Initiative, Ambassador Adeniyi Bunmi said that the army worm has been around now and it has become something else.
According to him one thing African farmers need to do is to understand the proper agronomy procedure because most people don’t do the proper thing.
He explained that farmers needs to do a proper land preparation such that when they plant their maize, and immediately notice any evaporation in their maize leaves between 5th and 10th days, farmers need to start applying pesticides. He stated that farmers should make sure the pesticides are directly dropped into leaves holes because armyworm just lay their eggs there, expand and eat into the stem of the maize.
He added: “It is not that your maize will not grow but they will not produce very well. What we are able to do like every three, three days, we keep applying different pesticides because those things get used to a particular pesticide at a time. But we were able to fight them health longer and able to eradicate it in our pilot farm. Since then I have been teaching farmers best ways to apply this thing not waiting till you begin to see the armyworm.
“So it has been work for me and other people that follow the procedure. But there are lot of chemicals out there that claim to tackle armyworm the bulk of which are not really working.
When you blend one or two together, you may get a result but we are still clamouring for permanent solution,” he added.
He said: “For me, my farmers and students, what we are able to do using different pesticides. We didn’t rely on one pesticides, we were just mixing like three pesticides together and fortunately, we were able to overcome them.”