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Nigeria: Maize scarcity looming as armyworm invades farms

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The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural has raised the alarm over the resurfacing of the armyworm which has been ravaging maize farms across the country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh who raised this alarm while hosting the Commissioners of Agriculture from the 36 states including FCT said if the pest is not controlled, it could cause severe maize shortage in the country.

Meeting on armyworm Control in Nigeria. Photo: @FMADNG

Ogbeh also said the pest also poses a threat to the poultry industry which could result in the skyrocketing of prices of poultry products.

According to him “it (armyworm) is destroying maize production in the country. It poses a threat to the production of not only maize but other important crops.

“If we don’t deal with it, maize production may become almost impossible here. The impact of the shortage of maize has a severe impact on poultry. And for a country facing food shortage, especially in the North-East, we will not allow it to continue.”

Meanwhile, the Deputy Director of Horticulture at the ministry, Mr Mike Kanu in his presentation said that a total of N2.98 billion will be needed to contain the pest for 700,000 hectares across the country.

“Implementation of the proposed intervention across the 36 states and FCT on 700,000 hectares for over 700,000 maize farmers is projected at N2.98 billion,” Mr Kanu stated.

The worm which is believed to have found its way into Nigeria from the Benin Republic through Oyo State attacks other crops including grasses, sorghum, barley, millet, wheat and rice. Other crops that harbour the pest include cotton, tomato, groundnut ginger, and are found in high-density areas.

Currently, the pests have spread to different zones in Nigeria including South-East, South-West, South-South, North-East and North-West.

The pest if not controlled could cause 90-95 per cent severe damage on maize and other cereal crops with 48 hours.

All the relevant stakeholders preferred solutions to the Army Worm infestations, control & management measures.

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