Reports of Caterpillar invasion on African soil continue to dominate the media these past weeks, while scientists are still unraveling the discovery of the new caterpillar species, the Fall Army worm, the Nigerian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development has confirmed the invasion of the African Army worm in 22 states of the country.
The African armyworm (Spodoptera exempta) also called nutgrass armywormi s an African moth, capable of destroying entire crops in a matter of weeks.
The Assistant Director and Desk Officer, Maize Value Chain, Dr Adeleke Muftau, who informed newsmen about the outbreak, stated that this pest usually found in maize posed a threat to national food security and availability of maize in the country, adding that the affected states were spread across the six geo-political zones of the country.
He said the government would embark on training for selected farmers to control the menace.
“The ministry is planning to train farmers on how to control the menace. We have visited farms and we have seen the devastation that has occurred in those farms and for us to reduce or alleviate farmers suffering and losses, we need to train them” he expressed.
Speaking on reports from farmers on the resistance of the armyworms to available pesticides, Muftau said the problem was the method of application.
According to him, “the usual method of spraying chemicals is not effective because it was discovered that the armyworms usually bury themselves in the maize. The normal way of spraying does not touch the worms and that is why farmers are complaining that the chemicals are not effective. It is the method of application that is wrong.”
Muftau however assured farmers that the ministry was working with the International Institute for Agricultural Research to develop a resistant variety to the pests to ensure that the disease was adequately controlled this year.