Directors and representatives from the various departments of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) linked up with participants from 5 universities and institutes, 6 civil society organisations, 5 information services, 6 key donors, as well as private sector producers and service providers to discuss a national response to the impending invasive fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda).
The workshop was organised by PPRSD and CABI and sponsored by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). CABI’s new Invasive Species programme, dedicated to developed regional, national and local coordinated approaches to invasive species, delivered various background materials. The workshop’s objectives were to share experiences and information on the insect’s outbreak and impacts in the country, and draft an initial comprehensive action plan in the short, medium and long term.
The workshop’s facilitators, Eric Quaye of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of MOFA and Dr Victor Clottey of CABI, urged the participants to be motivated and creative in their efforts to develop a well-coordinated approach plan that takes into accounts latest research and the needs of the many farmers already, and soon to be, affected by this devastating pest.
“We need to have structures to coordinate the deployment and monitoring of management strategies.”
Ebenezer Aboagye, Agriculture Director of PPRSD gave an update on the pests’ impacts:
¬ In 2016, the pests was present in 9 of the 10 regions of Ghana; it is currently present
in all regions of Ghana
¬ In 2016, the insect affected up to 10,000 ha; up to March 2017, it has already
affected 500 ha, with the impending maize planting season thought to be particularly
Recent estimations done by CABI in a report commissioned by DFID have estimated the pest to affect up to 500,000 tonnes of maize and sorghum in Ghana, potentially costing the country up to $163 million in 2017.
In the Americas, where this pest originates from, many different control measures are utilised:
¬ Synthetic pesticides are effective if used in the right manner (rigorous monitoring, spray early morning, rotate active ingredients used);
¬ Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) sprays are less damaging to the environment and can be very effective, but are more costly and less available; virus-based biopesticides show a lot of promise and are extremely safe, but need to be registered quickly for trials and dissemination across the country; classical and
augmentative biological control using parasitoids such as Trichogramma species or Telenomus remus have been reported as effective, but need to be imported and trialled, and questions remain on their cost effectiveness and local business sustainability;
¬ Pheromones are actively being developed to mass-trap males, and are effective when used at large scale; finally, cultural control techniques may work, but need testing and wide diffusion to the public through mass media communications.
To develop the comprehensive national action plan, participants were divided into four groups. These groups attempted to list key activities and institutions involved in their development.
¬ Collaboration and coordination
• Establish steering committee with balanced representation of all interests
• Keep all stakeholders up-to-date with technical and advocacy information
• Coordinate future fall armyworm stakeholder fora
• Identify potential collaborative institutions and national and international sources of
funding (friendly insecticide subsidies / spray trials)
• Establish a national feedback communication system to spread awareness and
• Increase information collection on the frontline by developing standardised reporting
format for district level staff, setting up reporting channel and data management
• Establish a monitoring and pest scouting network to prevent mass outbreak
¬ Control, management and research
• Assess which insecticides are effective and available in Ghana, whilst developing
insecticide resistance measures
• Research fall armyworm population biology and ecological adaptation to Ghana
• Development of novel control techniques, such as virus insecticides, sterile insect
mating techniques, natural enemies, and resistant variety research
• Utilise data from surveillance network to analyse and understand pest impacts and
predict future problems
¬ Awareness raising
• Use latest research to develop farmer-appropriate technical content into a package of
effective surveillance and control techniques
• National capacity building workshop plan developed for agricultural professionals
• Develop mass media strategy utilising radio and television networks, plant health
rallies, electronic and print media, and local workshop/seminars
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