Smallholder women farmers in some local government areas of Oyo State have raised alarm over maize infestation which may lead to a shortage of maize in 2020 as planting season starts.
The News correspondent who visited farms in Ibadan and Ibarapa areas of the state reports that farmers are battling to control the situation amidst the loss of revenue occasioned by COVID-19.
Recounting her experience, Mrs. Mujidat Jolaoye, a smallholder farmer at Iyana Offa in the state said that most of her maize plantations had been ravaged by a strange insect that destroyed the flowery part of the maize.
According to her, it is the floral part that grows to become maize cob and once that part is destroyed then the whole harvest is lost.
“The maize plant will eventually die once it gets infected by the insect, and it keeps spreading from one plant to another.
“We need to spray the maize plant with pesticides but the coronavirus outbreak has prevented us from having money to buy the necessary chemicals to stop the infestation,” she said.
Jolaoye, however, called on the government to come to the aid of smallholder farmers in addressing their challenges so that there could be food security in the country.
Also, Mrs. Funmilayo Olaniran, another smallholder farmer in Igboora, said that a particular insect had been destroying most farmers’ maize plantations.
She noted that only those who sprayed their farmers with pesticides as and when due were exempted from the ongoing maize infestation.
“Even those who sprayed their farms with pesticides two weeks after planting and are unable to continue applying the chemical are affected.
“This is very discouraging at this time when farmers are grappling with the effects of lockdown on their business.
“It is only God that can save us from the impending danger this portends for our nation,” she said.
Olaniran, however, appreciated the Federal Government for various incentives for farmers at this time, adding that it would go a long way if it gets to smallholder women farmers who were in dire need of such relief at this time.
She also urged the state government to take a cue from the Federal Government and provide a stimulus package for farmers with particular attention on smallholder women farmers.