- FAO commends breakthrough, warns of maize shortage
By James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has launched ‘Goldmax Total Crop Protection’, a breakthrough solution for Fall Armyworm (FAW) management and control for protection of farm produce, particularly maize grains.
The product, which was produced by a renowned Nigerian chemist, Prof. Aaron Baba, is organic and had been proven to offer 100 per cent effective control of pests.
Already, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Country Representative to Nigeria, Suffyan Koroma, has congratulated the inventor for the breakthrough solution in the control of the dreaded Fall Armyworm, known for its devastating economic impact on food security.
Specifically, the FAO which offered guidance on its production said Goldmax “complies with the FAO/WHO acceptable class of insecticide. Therefore, while there are other available means of managing the menace of FAW in affected crops, Goldmax Total Crop Protection, if judiciously used could play a positive role.”
However, the minister said that apart from maize, the pest had also been known to affect over 80 crops including cassava, yams, millet, sorghum, vegetables and okra.
He said the pest currently attacks maize crop in all states of the federation in both rain-fed and irrigated maize farms.
Ogbeh said FAW could cut maize crop yield by more than 50 per cent, thereby widening the already existing gap between supply and demand for maize grains.
He said the prevalence of FAW “poses serious threat to food security and the livelihood of many of our local crops and livestock. It also threatens the commendable efforts of the Federal Government to diversify the nation’s economy.”
He added that the solution will further enhance the export of farm produce which had hitherto been difficult.
According to him:”One of the problems we have when we export things is that people find residues of harmful chemicals on our crops. So they reject them. This discovery or invention will help solve this problem.”
He also attested to the efficacy of the solution which he had personally applied to his farm.
According to the minister:”I decided to try it in my farm and to my greatest relief, it solved FAW problem in my farm. Since then, a lot of tests and trials have been conducted by our institutes on its efficacy and I have been informed that NAFDAC has already approved its use.”
Ogbeh said there was need to launch the product because “We in Africa are not particularly famous for invention and discoveries.
“We have over the years been totally and hopelessly dependent on imports, dependent on instructions from far away for solving our local problems.”
The minister, who also inaugurated a national task force, which included the product investor as member, to continue to work hard on solving the FAW and associated problems reiterated the commitment of the present administration to support new breakthrough research in order to solve societal challenges.
He said: ”We have depended too much on what somebody else has said to us. And since we now have chemists and biologists and others in this country who can do things for us, the duty of this government- and I can say so on behalf of the Federal Government, is that we will do everything to give you support.”
Continuing, he said: ”We on our part in the ministry, we are going to buy a large consignment of your chemicals to give to farmers. Farmers need to have this thing close to them when they need it.
Nonetheless, Koroma said there was need for the Federal Government to declare a national emergency on FAW and also upscale the project to other states not covered by the FAO Technical Cooperation Project, which would come to an end by December 2018- to further build on the organisation’s supported intervention and ensure continuity and sustainability of the project.
He warned, that unless concrete actions were taken, the existing gap in demand for maize which is yet to be met through local supply will further widen by the current wave of maize devastation caused by FAW.