A two(2) day stakeholder forum organized by the Northern Sector Agriculture Investment Coordination Unit (NSAICU) and co-facilitated by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) was held across 2 district ( Jirapa and Wa) in the Upper West Region on the 31st of May and the 1st of June 2017 respectively.. The forum was organized to sensitize participants on the invasion of the Fall Army Worm (FAW) and how to control it.

The workshop attended by District Directors of Agriculture, Development partners, Agriculture Extension Agents, Nucleus Farmers, Input Dealers and Private Seed Producers. This meeting informed and educated participants on the invasion of the FAW and how they can strategize it.

The Fall Army Worm which has its botanical name as Spodoptera Frugiperda originated from the Americas but first reported in Ghana in the Eastern Region in April 2016. The Fall Army Worm was recently declared a national calamity because it had made a lot of damage on farmlands across all 10 Regions of the country. This has implications on food security and likely to threaten the ability of the country to feed itself in 2017/2018. Many crops especially maize has suffered has been affected throughout the country.

Larvae of fall armyworm. A) Prominent yellow lines; B) Inverted Y-mark on head (Photo credit: Purdue University)

The Upper West Region which has large areas of maize being grown, has recently been invaded by the Fall Army Worm which also attacks rice and a wide range of other food crops and natural grasses such as sugarcane, wheat, cotton and soya beans. The Fall Army Worm has destroyed over 5000ha of Farmlands across the country and has affected over 80 host plants.

The Upper West Regional Plant Protection Regulatory Service Officer, Mr Kwasi Wih, said one characteristic of the Fall Army Worm that made it difficult to control was that it hides in the whorl of the maize plant. He also added that, the Fall Army Worm was most destructive in the Larvae/caterpillar stage of its life cycle.

He also mentioned some symptoms of the larvae attack; small shot holes “window pane” to large ragged and elongated holes in the leaves emerging from the whorl.

Fall armyworm damage. A) Damaged maize field; B) Larva feeding in the whorl; C) Larva feeding on maize cob.

Mr. Wih also advised farmers to regularly scout their fields immediately after seedling emergence, so as to determine the particular management option to be adopted to control the Fall Army Worm. Some of thecontrol measures he advised include: Insecticidal controls (Chemicals such as Evite 340WP, K-Optimal), Biological controls (Pathogens such as Bacillus thuringiensis), Botanical control (Neem spray, Tobacco spray). He also advised farmers to put on protective equipment when using insecticidal controls.

The Upper West Regional Director for Agriculture, Mr. Kwasi Mintah assured farmers that Government was doing everything possible to stop the Fall Army Worm from causing any more destruction to farmlands. He also added that Government had provided The Upper West Region with chemicals to cover about 480ha of land and the distribution of the chemicals would start on Monday, the 5th of June 2017.