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Agric Ministry ready to tackle armyworms — Minister

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The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is well positioned to deal with the fall army worms, come the 2018 farming season, if they resurface, the sector Minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has stated.

He said the armyworms destroyed substantial food crops, especially maize and rice, in the 2017 farming season because their invasion took the country by surprise.

Courtesy call

Dr Akoto gave an assurance when he paid a courtesy call on the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Jose Graziano da Silva, at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy.

The minister was accompanied by his Technical Advisor, Mr Emmanuel Asante-Krobea; Ghana’s Ambassador to Italy, Madam Paulina Patience Abayage; the Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy, Madam Khadija Iddrisu, and the Alternate Permanent Representative to the UN Agencies in Rome, Nii Quaye-Kumah.

Dr Akoto was in Rome to attend the 41st Governing Council Session of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and used the opportunity to visit the three UN agencies on agriculture based in Rome.

The agencies he visited and had a wide range of discussions with their heads were the IFAD, the FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP).

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Ministry's readiness

Dr Akoto said 140,000 hectares of maize were destroyed by the army worms in 2017 “because it was a new experience for us. So now we are preparing feverishly”.

He said since last year, the ministry had been engaging the country's farmers through educational programmes, mostly agric programmes on radio, on how to deal with the army worms, adding that protective clothing had also been procured for the spraying of the worms.

Dr Akoto said apart from that, both farmers and journalists had been schooled on how to control the worms and report on them, respectively.

He conceded that because of inexperience, as of March last year when the armyworms were first reported, they were not tackled effectively, adding: “But now we have gained enough experience.”


Armyfallworm infestation in Ghana    


Government’s initiatives

Dr Akoto also told the FAO Director- General that the government of Ghana believed in the potential of agriculture and that explained its decision to roll out the Planting for Food and Jobs programme to ensure food sufficiency and also create jobs for the unemployed youth.

He said the government’s priority, on assuming office, was to build on the resilience of rural communities, harnessing what worked successfully for them, and also turned the focus on the youth, most of whom were not gainfully employed.


Commitment to agriculture

The Agric Minister said the government’s commitment to the sector was demonstrated last year when the ministry received the biggest budgetary allocation since its creation.

He said there were other ministries that were complementing the work of the Agriculture Ministry and mentioned them as Roads and Highways and Special Initiatives.

Source : Graphic.com.gh

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