The federal government, in partnership with Bayer, a global firm with core competence in health care and agriculture, has moved to stop the Fall Armyworm invasion on maize in the country, which was first identified in Africa last 2 years.
The Project Coordinator, Fall Army worm, Dr Mufutau Adeleke, who is also the Desk Officer of the Maize Value Chain, federal ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, revealed this at the Bayer Nigeria Maize Conference held in Abuja.
He said the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, held an emergency meeting with commissioners of Agriculture from the 36 states, including FCT, when the first case was discovered, giving a directive to create awareness to farmers on how to fight and manage the pest.
He added that the ministry was also collaborating with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) through a project known as Integrated Pest Management, aimed at fighting the pest in the country.
Dr Hassan Hamidu, Lecturer, College of Agriculture and Animal Science, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who also presented a paper at the conference, advised the federal government to take the issue of weed management seriously, as it affects lot of farmers in the country leading to low yield and income.
According to him, Maize is the third most important cereal crop in the world after wheat and rice and it is an important cereal crop in Nigeria with a total production of about 11.46 million tons in 2014.
He added that despite its importance, the yield of maize obtained in Nigeria was far below expectation due to numerous factors, which include weed infestation, low soil fertility and unavailability of labour.
Mr Laurent Perez, Country Commercial Lead, Bayer, said that it was important for the company to embrace the farmers because through this partnership, it would be easier to launch sustainable products that would address their needs.
While speaking on the importance of the conference, Temitope Banjo, Country Sales Manager, Bayer Nigeria, said it was organised in order to address major problems affecting Nigeria maize farmers such as weed and Fall Army worm.
He further called for more collaboration with the Federal Government and other stakeholders to help fight the pest in good time.
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