The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is seeking the support of the Ondo State Government to combat Fall Armyworm, to increase agricultural produce in the state.
The FOA is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger, achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to live active, healthy lives.
Mr Suffyan Koroma, the FAO Representative in Nigeria, made the appeal on Thursday in Akure while leading a delegation from the FAO and United Nations on a courtesy visit to Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo.
According to the FAO, Fall Armyworm (FAW), or Spodoptera frugiperda, is an insect that is native to the tropics as well as subtropical regions of the Americas.
In its larva stage, it can cause significant damage to crops, if not well managed.
It prefers maize, but can feed on more than 80 additional species of plants, including rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton.
FAW was first detected in Central and Western Africa in early 2016 and had quickly spread across virtually all of Sub-Saharan Africa because of trade and the moth’s strong flying ability, it has potential to spread further.
Koroma explained that a significant number of extension workers and farmers had been trained to combat the worms, which he said, came from the U.S. and affected 80 varieties of crops especially maize.
The FAO representative also commended Gov. Akeredolu for recognising the role agriculture played in alleviating food insecurity, generating income as well as creating employment opportunities for the youth.
Earlier, Gov. Akeredolu emphasised the need for agricultural development to create employment.
According to him, creating employment is part of the cardinal points of his administration and will be achieved through agriculture.
The governor also said the drive of zero oil economy by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was in line with food security and agriculture.
“The only way for us is to go back to basic; that is agriculture which is the fulcrum , if we want to achieve zero oil economy.
“We are not importing much rice anymore and we are all happy for it.
“I can assure you that we are committed to supporting whatever programmes you have because we know of your commitment in supporting us in all our agricultural ventures,” the Ondo governor assured.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that farmers would need great support through Integrated Pest Management to sustainably manage FAW in their cropping systems.
The FAO has proposed a five-year programme of action to help smallholder farmers, their organisations, their public institutions, national governments and development partners quickly respond to the challenges of FAW infestation across Africa.
FAO is taking an active role in coordinating partners’ activities, plans and approaches to provide sustainable solutions to the FAW challenge.