Spirally Fruit-flies pose significant threat to production- Says Agric DG

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Director General at the Department of Agriculture has said that spirally fruit-flies pose significant threat to The Gambia’s agricultural production, emphasising that controlling and preventing pest is a duty of the government, agricultural units and the citizens to ensure that production is consumable and of healthy standard.

Demba Jallow was speaking at the terminal workshop of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) Projects on Integrated Pest Management of Whitefly and the Surveillance and Rapid Intervention for the Management of Fall Armyworm in The Gambia held at a hotel in Kololi.

The project was being funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations through a requests made by The Gambia Government.

DG Jallow said the damage cause by whiteflies is increasing especially on maize.

“The use of chemicals is not encouraged because of the health implications it has on the farmers and as researchers, we are introducing things that farmers can obtain,” he said.

Dr. Mustapha Ceesay from FAO made reference to the magnitude of crop loss and destruction to landscape and ornamental plants as a result of whitefly infestation in the West Coast and North Bank Regions and that the devastating effect of the newly discovered invasive Fall Armyworm on maize in all regions of The Gambia warranted the Government to request for assistance from its development partners.

He indicated that FAO responded to this request with a Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) project on Integrated Pest Management on the Whitefly and another one on the Surveillance and Rapid Intervention for the Management of Fall Armyworm in The Gambia.

Landing Sonko, Director of Plant Protection Services said the support provided by FAO has helped to build capacity at the Plant Protection Services in a sustainable manner.

He said it is important to maintain the momentum, maintain the networks and to continue the implementation of the strategies developed by the projects.

“The population of the spiralling white-fly has reduced as a result of integrated pest management practices adopted by farmers and increased in the natural enemies of the white-fly. It should be noted that there are other insect pests that are easily confused with the white-fly,” Mr. Sonko said.

This, he said, include the scale insect attacking citrus plants and the mango mealy bug, saying Fall Armyworm remains a national concern. “Surveillance exercises revealed that the pest population has significantly increased reaching all corners of The Gambia.”

Author: Fatou B. Cham