The Executive Director, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IART), Ibadan, Prof. James Adediran has called for the resuscitation of federal pest control units to tackle the army worm pest currently invading maize farms.
Adediran in an interview in Ibadan on Wednesday, appealed to the Federal Government to provide subsidies for farmers on pest control inputs.
He said this would support the efforts of scientists and farmers in tackling the pest.
Adediran noted that farmers, agric extension agents and other stakeholders should be encouraged to work in close collaboration with research institutes.
He emphasised the need for routine pests and diseases survey to forestall sudden epidemics.
“Government should put in place policies that will encourage farmers to insure farms against risks, including pest attacks.
“Federal, state and local governments should assist farmers, who suffered losses with cash or farming inputs to alleviate their suffering from the financial losses caused by any outbreak of pest,” he said.
Adediran disclosed that the armyworm (spodoptera frugiperda (smith) ravaging maize field at an alarming rate is the caterpillar of the adult moth.
According to him, it is a nocturnal pest with peak of its activity in the late evening and at night.
He said that the effect of the damage caused by the pest included high cost of production, yield reduction and total crop loss.
He explained that the effect on the nation would be greatly felt, especially by agro industries that produce livestock feed.
Adediran explained that the livestock feed industry accounts for over 60 per cent utilization of maize produced in South West.
“The implication is that there will be reduction in size of livestock farms, prices of livestock products will be high and protein deficiency among the poor people will increase.
“The pest control measures include: regular field monitoring, burning of previous crop residues, putting pests to heat, natural enemies, such as birds, planting resistant materials.
“Use of non-pathogenic organism, exposure of pests to birds in ploughed fields while chemicals should be used carefully,” he said.
Adediran added that a workshop on the sensitisation and training on the biology, ecology and control of the pest was organized for stakeholders in maize production at IART.