From: Babatunde Azeez, Abuja
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to declare a national emergency on Fall Armyworm (FAW) in the country.
FAO Country Representative, Mr Suffyan Koroma made this call in Abuja on Tuesday at the launching of Goldmax Total Crop Protection and Inauguration of National Task Force for Fall Armyworm Management and Control.
Koroma explained that the pest (FAW) which has become a global menace, was first discovered in the country in 2016 and has affected thousands of hectares of maize farms across Africa, not leaving out Nigeria.
He noted that the existing gap in demand for maize which is yet to be met through local supply will further widen by the current wave of maize devastation caused by fall armyworm if concrete actions are not taken.
According to Koroma: “To further build on FAO supported intervention and ensure continuity and sustainability of the project, there was need for Nigeria government to declare a national emergency on Fall Armyworm.
“The pest is a serious threat to the nation’s food and nutrition security as well as the livelihood of majority smallholder resources poor farmers, whose major means of livelihood is agriculture.
“It therefore deserves more urgent national attention, considering the importance of maize as both a source of food for humans and raw material for many agro-based industries.
“The pest is known to primarily attack maize but the risk of attack on the crops are extremely as it has the potential to feed on more than 186 crops, ” he said.
Koroma further explained that FAO was partnering with the Ministry of Agriculture in the fight against the pest, since the signing of the Technical Cooperation Project agreement in 2017
He said the project has achieved some of it’s objectives such; as building national capacities of officers from the Federal and State Ministries of Agriculture, Research Institutions, University and farmers of FAW surveillance, monitoring, identification and control.
He expressed FAO’s satisfaction that an indigenously produced product name “Goldmax Total Crop Protection” was provided to support farmers and protect their crops from FAW infestation.
“Not less than 1200 affected farmers across 12 states were trained on maize production through provision of agricultural inputs, maize seed, fertiliser, herbicide, insecticide, knapsack sprayers and personal protective equipment.
“Goldmax is produced in Nigeria by a Nigerian and should be commended. I want to assure you that the product complies with the FAO/WHO accepted class of insecticide.
“Therefore, while there are other available means of managing the menace of FAW
“In affected crops, Goldmax Total Crop Protection, if judiciously used could play a positive role, ‘’ he added.
The country rep. commended the federal government’s effort for putting up the National Taskforce in place which would use a strategic national approach to the control and management of the Fall Armyworm infestation.
The committee expected to be inaugurated today by the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, according to Koroma is needed to ensure food security for every household in Nigeria.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said that the launch of an indigenous pest controller was apt bearing in mind the damage the pest has done to the country’s effort in achieving food security.
According to the Minister, the total annual income in maize stands at N294 billion, which 50 per cent is lost to Armyworm. This serves a treat to the nation’s food security.
Ogbeh said the government would buy the product in large consignment and give to farmers to serve as an encouragement to boost their productivity.
“The good thing is that this product is made in Nigeria by a Nigerian. And it is organic. This is better than using chemicals that can be harmful to human’s health.
“I used the product on my cashew farm and it has proven effective. This product has met NAFDAC approved standards. Farmers should take advantage of this golden opportunity to increase their maize production.
“It is glad to note that Nigeria is the largest production of maize. We are looking at 12 and half million tons of maize this year.
“Farmers raised the issue of availability of the product. We are introducing a new programme called Agricultural Inputs and Mechanisation Scheme (AIMS across all the local government in the country).
“These are trusted people that would supply farm inputs to farmers timely to prevent farmers buying fake seeds and adulterated chemical in the market,‘’ he said.
Alhaji Bello Abubakar, President, Maize Association of Nigeria, however, thanked the Federal Government and FAO’s supports when the pest was first discovered in the country two years ago.
He added that FAO has trained its members on how to prevent further attack and carried out sensitisation workshops which has helped its members and further boosted maize production in the last farming season.