More than 10,000 hectares of corn in four provinces were destroyed by armyworm, an invasive pest which has never been detected in Cambodia before, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, on Friday said that as of June 11, a total of 11,142 hectares of corn crop have been destroyed, consisting of 2,544 hectares in Pailin province, 3,033 hectares in Battambang, 4,715 hectares in Banteay Meanchey and another 850 hectares in Tboung Khmum province.
“The new species of worm is considered to be the main pest of concern, which originated from South America, as it can destroy more than 80 types of crops and plants, including corn, which is a favourite crop for the worm,” Mr Sakhon said.
Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture ordered specialists to monitor the presence of the worms.
Mr Sakhon said that monitoring results show that the worms have become a serious threat to crop production in Cambodia.
“In order to prevent any further outbreak and damage from this worm, and to ensure the sustainability of production and export of corn products, the ministry wants to advise relevant institutions, all provincial departments of agriculture as well as farmers to join together in getting rid of this new worm,” he added.
Mr Sakhon ordered the General Department of Agriculture to prepare a plan to prevent and kill the worm species effectively in order to ensure the sustainability of corn production in Cambodia.
“The General Department of Agriculture has to conduct a survey on the crop destruction caused by the worm species and promote crop protection measures to eliminate the worm and prevent the species from spreading to other provinces throughout the country,” Mr Sakhon said. “The provincial departments of agriculture have to coordinate with the General Department of Agriculture to continue to monitor and evaluate the situation of the newly detected worm and take part in crop protection measures.”
Mr Sakhon noted that all provincial departments of agriculture must pay close attention and encourage farmers to check regularly on their corn fields, as well as immediately report any sign of suspicion related to the worm to the general department of agriculture.
Say Sophat, Pailin provincial director of the department of agriculture, yesterday said that his department officials have visited and informed local corn farmers of the newly sighted pest.
“In our province, farmers have faced two obstacles, where more than 2,000 hectares of corn have been destroyed by drought and the new worm,” Mr Sophat said.
He said that the challenges have affected the livelihoods of the farmers, which has led some to borrow funds from the bank to plant crops.
“The new worm had begun destroying corn crops since early this month and we cannot save the corn because destruction had started since early stages of the crop’s growth,” Mr Sophat said. “The department has little ability to provide raw materials to the farmers who cannot get corn seeds for planting again.”
“We also have drug substances for preventing the worm from destroying the corn, but we could not provide it to all farmers,” he added. “However, they can buy them.”