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Unknown worms destroy crops in Zota

--Farmers seek government’s intervention

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Some local farmers in Zota District, Bong County have alarmed over the outbreak of what seems to be army worms that is extremely damaging crops in the area.
Our correspondent who visited the district recently says about 11 towns and other surrounding villages are seriously being affected by the crops – killer worms.Garden egg, pepper, cocoa and cabbage, among others, are crops mostly being eaten by the strange worms.

The situation has left poor farmers with little or no hope of benefiting from their labors, as they call on the government through the Ministry of Agriculture to intervene.
“We are really facing problem with these worms, they are destroying our farms on a daily basis and we don’t even know what to do to kill them because when we try to apply method to make them leave, we will see them [in] abundance in the next day,” Wornukai General Town Chief Peter Kuamue told journalists.

Mr. Kuamue says they started experiencing the presence of the worms that appear like caterpillars since the beginning of this month, but they started in another town called Kpaimue, north of Zota District.He says the invasion began in Kpaimue before spreading into nearby towns and villages in the area.

“For me as a farmer, I have been seeing these caterpillars but they have never been on this kind of large scale and eating crops,” he adds.An experienced farmer in Denyea, Jerry F. Mulbah, says the district faces the challenges of the strange worms that are threatening the livelihoods of over 90 percent of the population in the area that depend on agriculture.

According to him, there is a crucial need to enhance capacity at the district and county levels to prevent, detect and respond rapidly to any new worms and diseases threat.
He tells reporters that it is not time to sit in the backseat, but for all of the citizens to join hands with local authorities and seek the government’s immediate response.

Mary Kollie, a mother of four children, tells journalists that if the situation continues she will be left with nothing to sell and buy food for her children.She adds that the strange worms started eating her crops before spreading to other parts of the area.

“So the only thing I want is for the government to help us fight these worms because if [they] continue, we will be left with nothing at the end of the farming season,” she concludes.
Some of the towns being affected are Tinsue, JorkaiKpamue, Flomota, Narwai and Prulukpae, among others.There has not been a comment from authorities of the Ministry of Agriculture concerning the situation.

This is not the first time for worms to attack crops in Zota. In 2009, an armyworm outbreak started in the same district and later spread to other parts of the county.
Our Bong County correspondent says since news of the strange worms broke up, there have been hikes in the prices of local commodities especially garden egg, cabbage and pepper, a situation that has led many citizens to blame the caterpillars’ invasion.
By Joseph Titus Yekeryan–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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