Beating the armyworms - St Bess farmer find the formula to combat pests

May 15, 2017
Escallion Farmer in Comma Pen St Elizabeth who has found a way to get rid of the beat armyworms that has been destroying scallion in the area.
Beat armyworm in a piece of scallion.
This open bottle traps bugs that lay the eggs.

While the farms of some of his neighbours lay ravaged with the beet armyworms, Nalford Holness's scallion farm is flourishing, as he says he has found the formula to combat them.

He said several of his colleagues are now looking to him for guidance on how to rid their farms of the pests.

"It simple. You spray it with insecticide. What happen to the farmer them down here is that because it costs so much fi spray, them no wah spray it the right way. The first day me spray this garden, it cost me $17,000," the 62-year old told THE STAR, as he offered us a tour of his one-acre farm in Comma Pen, St Elizabeth.

A significant increase in the population of the beet armyworm has been reported by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). Farmers in south St Elizabeth and south Manchester have been warned to get ready to take on the invasive species.




Holness said it is costly to spray his farm, but it is worth it. "If me lose this crop to the worms it would be whole heap a money, because right now a $50 a pound fi scallion, so if me fi reap all this garden now, it would probably be worth about $300,000," he told THE STAR.

According to Holness, he first uses a hand pump to spray his crops individually, allowing it to saturate them and kill all the deep-rooted insects. Then he follows up with the mist blower spray every three to four days, which costs roughly $6,000 each time.

He noted that he uses the same insecticides that the other farmers use, which are Break Thru and Tracer.

He also pairs the sprays with a special trap that an officer of the RADA taught him.

"The traps attract the bugs that lay the eggs and hatch the worms. You get a bottle and cut out a window so them can fly in deh, den put the pheromone (chemical) in there to attract dem, den di bugs drop in the soap water and die. It lasts about a month and costs $500," he explained.

Holness, who has been in farming some 28 years now, said he is currently trying to revive his neighbour's ravaged farm, and he is seeing progress.

"Dem eat down a man farm and the RADA man say it can't come back [recover]. But me tell the guy fi buy the spray and me start spray it, and when him come back come see it, the RADA man was amazed. So from that, a no one man come to me," Holness shared.

Though he has had a kidney transplant and now has to fork out over $70,000 on medication monthly, Holness said he makes the sacrifice to invest in his farm because it is a business, just like any other. He said others should take them same approach.

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