The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has given an assurance that the Fall Army Worm (FAW), invasion which affected thousands of farmlands in the country, has been defeated.
“Let me assure you that the Fall Army Worm has been defeated in Ghana. I can tell you that,” he stressed, adding that the bumper harvest expected under the government’s flagship programme, ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ would be realised.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra on Wednesday, Dr Akoto said the bumper harvest was on its way, saying: “At the moment, we are busily organising storage facilities, warehouses and so on to receive the bumper crop and I promise Ghanaians that the bumper crop is on its way.”
He said the ministry was monitoring what was going on all over the country and was happy to announce that all was set for a bumper harvest this year.
War against FAW
Dr Akoto dismissed claims that the ministry’s fight against the FAW was losing grounds, describing such statements as “propaganda being orchestrated by opponents of the government.”
He admitted that 121,000 hectares of farmlands were affected across the country by the worms, out of which 14,000 were destroyed.
Dr Akoto indicated that 14,000 hectares of farmlands destroyed by the worm could not be generalised as “all farmlands”, adding that although the ministry was not disputing the fact that the FAW devastated farmlands, the quick response by the ministry with the chemicals brought the worms attack under control.
“We were able to intervene at the appropriate time with the quantity of the chemicals that we had, so that the farmlands that had been attacked, we were able to spray to control them,” he said, adding that the peak period of the attack of the worms, especially in the southern sector, was over.
Dr Akoto said currently, the ministry was aware that there were still signs of the worms in some parts of the northern sector of the country, and gave an assurance that there were sufficient chemicals to deal with the situation.
The minister, however, said the challenge was that some of the farmlands being affected by the worms were in the hinterlands, away from the district capitals, where the farmers did not bother to report to the agric officers for assistance.
He explained that the worms could only attack the soft tissue of the plant and “once the tissue is hardened, they cannot attack it any more,” adding that at that level, the plant was protected until harvest time.
Dr Akoto said the bumper harvest was being anticipated from the government’s flagship programme and hinted that the ministry was arranging for more silos and warehouses in its anticipation.
He said so far, 275 warehouses which were constructed to store cocoa in some parts of the country had been taken over by the ministry for rehabilitation to serve as warehouses for the crops to be harvested.
Dr Akoto announced that the warehouses would be allocated to traders and associations who would be licensed by the ministry as recognised buying companies “so that we can regulate them”.
“We are coming with a well-organised market, putting the private sector in charge, linking up with the government procurement capabilities so that school feeding programme, food for the prison service, barracks and hospitals will be the first option to buy the food,” Dr Akoto said.
He said he had had meetings with 90 traders who registered as licensed buyers a month ago and about two weeks ago, 120 of them also converged on Accra for a meeting where the ministry negotiated with them on how much would be paid to the farmer at the farm gate.
He said the ministry anticipated that such a move would ultimately lead to the reduction of food prices in the country.