Armyworm Enugu State commissioner says no infestation of maize farms

The African armyworm is an African moth and a very deleterious pest capable of destroying the entire crops of a farm in a couple of weeks.

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Crop-eating armyworm caterpillars have already caused damage to staple crops in Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana play

Crop-eating armyworm caterpillars have already caused damage to staple crops in Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana

(CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International)/AFP/File)
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Mr Michael Eneh, the Enugu State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, on Friday said that there was no single case of armyworm infestation of maize farms in the state.

Eneh told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Friday that the ministry’s crop disease surveillance officers and farmers had not reported any case of armyworm infestation so far.

The African armyworm (Spodoptera exempta), also called okalombo, kommandowurm or nutgrass armyworm, is an African moth and a very deleterious pest capable of destroying the entire crops of a farm in a couple of weeks.

NAN reports the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) recently alerted that the pest had ravaged maize farms in some states.

Eneh said: “Our officers in the field as well as farmers have not reported any armyworm outbreak in any maize farm in the state. So, we have no challenge of armyworm invasion."

“However, we have stepped up surveillance through our crop disease surveillance officers and farmers; they have been instructed to report immediately any strange development in maize farms,’’ he said.

Eneh, who was once a director in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the agriculture minister and state commissioners for agriculture met on the issue early this week.

He said that the theme of the meeting was to design ways and measures to effectively tackle the maize disease before it spread to those states which were hitherto unaffected.

“We agreed that chemicals would be made available to farmers in all states to effectively check the spread as well as eradicate the caterpillar armyworm pest,’’ he said.

Eneh said that whenever the state received its own consignment of the anti-armyworm pesticide, it would be speedily be deployed to deal with any reported case of armyworm infestation in the state.

Besides, the commissioner said that the ministry had embarked on a survey of farms across the state so as to identify those farmlands which needed expansion and additional inputs.

“We want to get the farms and farmers ready to key into the dry-season farming plans of the state government."

“We also want the farmers to take part in the agricultural schemes of the Central Bank of Nigeria and other donor agencies,’’ he said.

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