South-West farmers lose N257.4bn to pest - Expert


 Farmers in South-West zone of the country have so far lost about N257.4 billion in 2016 due to army worm invasion, an expert has disclosed.
Dr Folake Akinbode, the Head of Maize Improvement Programme, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Thursday.
She said that scientists in the institute discovered the problem during their survey in six states: Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun and part of Kwara.
``Some farmers even lost about 20 hectares of land to the worm invasion,’’ she said.
The expert, therefore, urged the government and stakeholders to join hands to address the pest menace.
``To help the farmers, the institute distributed two maize varieties: BR9928-DMR-SR-Y (which has a level of tolerant to the pest) and LNTP-Y (which requires low fertiliser), to 500 farmers in Oyo state.
``We also organised training and educated the farmers on the control of the pest, however, we are working tirelessly on the bio-control of the army worm.”
Akinbode advised farmers to always be watchful of the happenings on their farm, saying that they should not plant and leave the farm for a long time.
``The army worm gives signs on the seedlings; it is usually more obvious when the plants are two weeks.
``So, proper farm checking will help discover it early enough; it’s easily tackled at the early stage.
``The level of damage will not be much once there is good monitoring of the farm.”
She also urged the farmers to always seek information from appropriate quarters to be able to get correct information on control measures.
``They should alert research institutes that work on the crops on time once they see anything strange on the farm, so that recommendations can be made.
``They need to have good farm hygiene; the worm looks for alternative once they don’t find maize to eat.
``So, when farmers prepare their land, they should leave it for two weeks before planting maize so that the worm will not attack the plant but the weed.
``By the time the army worm see only weed, they will migrate to another place.
``Farmers should also endeavour to carry out good agronomic practices.”

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