Tomatoes, Maize killer diseases: Resuscitate Federal pest control units now – Expert tells FG

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By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.
An entomologist, Dr. Kemi Odeyemi Thursday asked the Federal Government to resuscitate all the moribund federal pest control units in the country to be able to tackle spread of tomatoes and maize killer diseases otherwise known as “Tuta Absoluta” on tomatoes and Army worm infestation on Maize farms in Nigeria.
The expert made the call in Ibadan while addressing stakeholders at a one day workshop organized by the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) on army worm infestation in Nigeria.
Dr Odeyemi stated that in addition to the resuscitation of the entire moribund pest control unit, Federal Government should be ready to provide the necessary funding for research institutes in the country, saying, “if research institutes is given more money we will put more efforts”.
He maintained that based on the outcome of the survey carried out on 74 maize farms in the six South West states including Kwara by the team of experts commissioned by IAR&T to look at the causes and proffer solutions to the pests marauding maize farms in the country, it was glaring that the maize disease “is not only limited to the South-West as the Institute received many distress calls from many states in the country such as Rivers and Delta.
She however pointed out that if all the moribund federal government owned pest control units across Nigeria are resuscitated, IAR&T and other research Institute will quickly swing into action to curb the spread of such pests as army worm infestation wherever they are found in Nigeria.
“Stakeholders should work in collaboration with research institute and it is important that the federal pest control units should be resuscitated. More funds should also be made available to research institutes; if research institutes are given more money, we will put more efforts. And government should also put in place policies that will encourage farmers,” she stressed.
Dr Odeyemi stated further that other ways by which the tomatoes and maize killers diseases could be tackled included “regular field monitoring, good field hygiene, burning of previous crop residues, leaving of ploughed field for at least a week to expose pests to heat and natural enemies such as birds and planting of resistant materials as some panacea to the problems of the maize farmers”.
Stating that IAR&T “is on top of the situation” if more funds are made available to research institutes to work effectively in addressing the impending challenges facing the agricultural sector in general, she gave other measures of combating the diseases as using non-pathogenic organism and exposure of pest to birds in ploughed fields.
In his remark, the Institute    Executive-Director Professor James Adediran, said  insect pests attacks and disease infestation are currently threatening the production of maize especially in hot humid ecologies, leading to yield loss estimated to be between 40-100 percent which can result into great economic loss and that IAR&T is confident of tackling the challenges will not be defeated, adding that, “the Institute is thus playing a great role in solving problems of maize growers and users through our research activities, the findings of which we disseminate promptly to the end-users”.
“This workshop is another of its type designed to encourage farmers in enhancing our innovations for better productivity. It will be recalled that the insect pest/armyworm attack we are discussing today was noticed/observed on farms early this year (around March) after the first rain. The prevalence brought to our notice through one of the visits made by a Team Leader of MTRM in Ogun State. The Institute immediately commissioned a survey team to examine the extent of distribution and damages caused by the insect pest,” he said.
Professor Adediran added “we therefore raised a red alert on its incidence immediately after the survey conducted in the 6 states of the Southwestern Nigeria. The report of the survey gave birth to this workshop which aimed at sensitizing and training maize growers on the control measures to combat the menace of the armyworm infestation on their farms”.

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