From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh on Tuesday inaugurated a 23-member National Task Force Committee on Fall Armyworm management and control of the pest in the country.
Ogbeh while inaugurating the committee in Abuja at the Launching of Goldmax Total Crop Protection Pesticide tasked them to swing into action to avoid further attacks on crops.
He said the attack reduced maize crop yield by more than 50 per cent thereby increasing the already existing gap between supply and demand for maize grains, causing serious threat to food security
According to him: “Today’s event is historic as Nigeria launches one of its own arsenals and institutes a structure to curb the devastating effect of Fall Armyworm (FAW) a new pest on maize and other crops in the country.
“The pest attacks maize crop in all the states of the federal both during wet and irrigated maize farms.
“The FAW could reduce maize crop yield by more than 50 per cent thereby increasing the already existing gap between supply and demand for maize grains, causing serious threat to food security,’’ Ogbeh ssaid.
He explained that in its effort to curtail the spread of the pest, the ministry called for an urgent meeting of all commissioners of agriculture and stakeholders to sensitise them of the problem at hand.
Ogbeh said the ministry had to request for immediate technical assistance from the Food and Agriculture of Organisation (FAO) to provide support in controlling and managing the Fall Armyworm pest.
He added that the request gave birth to the Technical Cooperation Project in September 2017, added that their project covered 12 states of the federation.
The states according to Ogbeh include; Abia, Borno, Ekiti, Osun, Kwara, Ondo, Oyo, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Jigawa and FCT.
His words: ”Their activities has been very successful in building capacity for extension officers, researchers and farmers in order to strengthen their capacities on integrated pest management, good agricultural practices, surveillance and control against FAW.”
The Minister explained that the National Task Force’s responsibilities includes is as follows; advice government on Fall Armyworm infestation, engage partners, communicate with relevant stakeholders on the menace of the pest.
The committee consists of staff from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, National Pest Control Service, National Agricultural Seed Council, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, FAO, All Farmers Association of Nigeria.
Other are, Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Maize Association of Nigeria, USAID, IFAD, GIZ, IAR Zaria and the media.