THE Brong Ahafo Region, regarded as the bread basket of the country, has been invaded by a large army of worms which have caused extensive damage to large tracts of maize farms in the region.
Agricultural officers in the region have identified the worms as African army worms and attributed the invasion to the erratic rainfall pattern in the region this year. Thirteen districts have been severely hit with the Nkoranza South Municipality being the worst affected area.
Agric officers said the worms were seasonal pests that fed on maize and other grass species and invaded the region annually but described this year’s as the worst in recent times.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) has responded by dispatching a spraying squad of about 80 spraying personnel to the affected areas. They are currently working to bring the situation under control.
According to the Regional Director of MOFA, Mr Emmanuel Asante Krobea, who was in the company of the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, who visited the affected areas in the Nkoranza South Municipality on Sunday to assess the situation, said this year’s invasion had been the worst, especially in the Nkoranza South municipality which is an army worm endemic area in the region.
He said the government had made available enough chemicals and spraying machines to enable the spraying squad bring the situation under control in all the affected districts.
Mr Asante Krobea noted that so far, 600 hectares of maize farms that were attacked by the worms in the 13 districts had been sprayed with the chemicals and attributed the invasion to this year’s erratic rainfall pattern that had aided the prolific breeding of the worms.
The Regional Director of MOFA stated that though this year’s invasion had been the worst, it had been controlled, and gave the assurance that it was not going to affect food production in the region which is often referred to as the food basket of the country.
He added that the government supported many farmers in the region with subsidised fertiliser and other inputs to enable them go into block farming for the production of maize, rice and soya bean this year, therefore the impact of the worm invasion would not affect food production so much although it was the worst in recent times.
He, therefore, urged the public not to panic since the situation was under control and would not affect food production this year.
Mr Nyamekye-Marfo, who was accompanied by Messrs Kwadwo Agyekum and Kwadwo Agyei-Dwomo, Municipal and District Chief Executives for Nkoranza South and Nkoranza North respectively on the visit, also took part in the spraying and called on farmers in the area to constantly monitor their farms and check the immediate surroundings from time to time and report their suspicions to MOFA officials.
He added that the situation could have been contained immediately if farmers who saw the worms breeding in the bushes around their farms had reported it to MOFA officials.
He stated that the government had made available enough chemicals for spraying to bring the situation under control.
Mr Nyamekye-Marfo also called on MOFA officials in the district to pay attention to the early warning signs and deal with the problem since it was an annual event.