Ghanaian farmers can now breathe a sigh of relief in the fight against fall armyworm infestation, following the discovery of a non-toxic formulation that effectively deals with the menace.
The discovery by the Ghanaian Company, Equatorial Healthcare Services, comes after research into the development of a non-toxic formulation that can ward off the worm without causing harm to the farmers.
Dubbed, the Equatorial Agro Blasters, the formulation from the natural pyrethrum (pyrethrins) with the appropriate synergist to ensure their effectiveness in ridding the target insects.
Professor Kwasi Ohemeng, the Founder of Equatorial Healthcare Services, said the fall armyworm, formulation is water based to make them friendlier to humans and animals.
“Blasters are derived from Pyrethrum an organic plant extract and not a synthetic chemical. Pyrethrum has a proven safety to humans, following extensive use for many years as a human antihelminthic, as a personal insect repellent applied to the skin, and for the control of human lice,” he said.
Besides, Pyrethtrum is the preferred food insecticide used on all fruits and vegetables that are exported to Europe and America.
An infestation of fall armyworm spread rapidly across Africa since it first appeared on the continent in 2016; it is now been reported in 44 countries, with 80 different types of crops affected.
In Ghana, it has spread from farms in the North to the South with farmers and policy makers racing for solutions, usually spraying crops with pesticides, which has serious health implications for farmers from unsafe use.
Prof. Ohemeng said in order to study the effects of the formulation on plants when sprayed, the company teamed up with scientists from the University of Ghana farms at Kpong to conduct trials and the results were positive.
The scientists at the University of Ghana Farms tried the formulation on maize, cabbage and okra.
“The University of Ghana scientists came out with a report after the trials of the formulation at the Research farms at Kpong, which we sent to the Environmental Protection Agency and registered the product mainly for fall armyworm. So hopefully the farmers will be using it this year,” he said.
The efficacy of the product and its non-toxic nature is not in doubt as it is effective in killing the insects and the eggs, but not harm the human being, he added.
He said the company was in contact with the Ministry of Food Agriculture to could procure the products for farmers, adding that the company would also explore the possibility of formulating the product for other crops.
Persons can enter treated areas immediately after spraying with the Blaster, without hazardous effects from the chemicals,he added.
Aside the fall armyworm formulation, there are others for poultry and livestock and control of mosquitoes.