By Joke Falaju
Abuja — The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and the Federal Government have signed a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP), agreement as part of joint efforts to manage the spread of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) disease across Nigeria.
The objective of the TCP included the establishment of capacities to detect, monitor and control the FAW infestation in maize production. The project is expected to improve national capacities for Fall Armyworm surveillance and monitoring in affected areas, establishment of Public
Awareness on FAW, strengthen national capacities for FAW management, restore productive capacity and enhance livelihood in the worst affected households.
The agreement signed in Abuja by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, and FAO Country Representative to Nigeria, Suffyan Koroma, will help build the capacity of countries within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region for effective management of the Fall Armyworm disease.
Ogbeh, who expressed worry over the devastating effect of the pest on Nigeria's farm produce, noted that the pest had not only affected maize but other crops such as rice, wheat, sorghum, and vegetable crops.
He said: "If we do not contain the FAW infestations, it is likely to compromise our agriculture efforts in this country. I want to make a passionate appeal to all agencies especially FAO to be on the standby and come to our rescue."
Ogbeh disclosed that the attack on crops had contributed to the importation of maize, causing anxiety among farmers and a severe rise in market prices, adding that steps are being taking to curb the pest and other crop diseases, as excessive food importation has remained a challenge to Nigeria over the years.
Koroma in his opening remark at a five-day workshop, said the agreement demonstrated Nigerian government's commitment to assist farmers ease the damage to crops and loss of income. While cautioning the farmers to avoid excessive application of pesticides.