Image: Courtesy of MPRT

The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) has issued an order for maize growers across the sultanate to destroy their crops to combat the infestation of a new agricultural threat; the Fall armyworms.

According to a statement by the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood (DAA), sightings of the Fall armyworms (Spodoptera frugiperda) have prompted the government to take drastic measures aimed to “halt the life cycle of the insect pest, and prevent its reproduction”. 

Originating from the American continent, the Fall armyworm made its way to the African continent in 2016 and began spreading to Asia last year, with the maize crop being its main preference. 

“In December last year, the Fall armyworm infestation was declared by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) as a global threat towards food security by affecting small scale farmers,” the statement read.

The department added that the Fall armyworms can affect at least 80 types of plants including paddy, melons, chillies, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, bananas and leafy vegetables, all of which are grown by farmers in Brunei Darussalam.

Image: Courtesy of MPRT

“The worm can attack all levels of plant growth (from seedling to fruiting), lowering productivity by causing up to 20% to 100% worth of damages,” continued the department.

In light of this, a written order was issued requiring all maize farmers to destroy their corn plantations in accordance with Section 13(1) Agricultural Pests and Noxious Plants Chapter 43.

Failure to comply with the order is an offense under the law and as such, the person may be fined up to $2,000 or six months imprisonment.

The DAA went on to urge maize farmers to destroy their crops immediately by cutting down the plants and burning them to ash.

After destroying the crops, the burned soil should be mixed with ashes of the burned plants and sprayed with poison to ensure that the cocoons found within the soil are killed as well.

Image: Courtesy of MPRT

Farmers were then reminded to let the soil rest and to not cultivate maize for three months to put an end to the Fall armyworms’ life cycle, adding that alternatively, farmers can plant yams, watermelons, long beans and spinach which do not host the pest.

“The ministry through the DAA will continue to carry out continuous monitoring to control the Fall armyworm infestation in order to ensure that local agricultural production will not be heavily impacted,” the statement concluded. – Wardi Wasil



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