‘New pest ravaging corn farm in Nigeria’

EXPERTS in plant quarantine department, federal ministry of agriculture, have raised the alarm that the new pest ravaging corn farms in the country is destructive.

A team led by an acting director of the ministry, Mr John Abba, visited Benue State last week, to assess the damage wreaked by pests in corn farms in some parts of the state.

He explained that the new pest had destroyed about 100 hectares of corn farm that were visited in parts of the state.

According to him, in response to the letter from the state ministry of agriculture, intimating the federal ministry of the massive destruction of corn farms across the state, this team was sent here to assess the situation on ground.

“The first farm we visited was 15 hectares of maize  farm, it is 70 per cent damaged, another five hectares at Taraku completely destroyed, so also is 10 hectares of which 70 per cent were infected and completely destroyed by pests.

“We proceeded to the third farm of 20 hectares, all varieties of crops there were susceptible to pest, another 50 hectares of corn farm is completely destroyed by pests, in summary, all the farms visited were ravaged by pests and completely destroyed.”

Abba said, contrary to initial report that the corn farms in the state were ravaged by stem borer, the team  observed combination of army worm and stem borer with the former constituting 90 per cent.

He advocated short time option to tackle the pests, which he highlighted to include; “the use of appropriate and multiple insecticides, engaging good agronomy practitioner, having butter cropping to safeguard corn and application of fertilizer at the appropriate time will protect corn against the ravaging pests.”

Dr Akindele Ogunfunmilola, a specialist in plant from the same ministry, threw more light on the pests, stating that research conducted in conjunction with agronomists in USA, indicated that the ‘army worm’ was a new type of pest that just found its way to Nigeria from neighbouring countries.

“The new army worm was first noticed at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ikenne, Ogun State and later in Ibadan, so we gathered the lava and sent to Texas in USA for further laboratory test, where we discovered that it was a new army worm which just came to Nigeria.”

“But we also learnt that this type of army worm had been in Ghana and Togo and it is so destructive that there is no seed that is resistance to the pest.”