GBARNGA, Bong – Several towns and villages in Bong are experiencing infestations from caterpillars, a situation that is negatively affecting farming communities.
Notably, some towns and villages in the county’s third, fourth, fifth, and seventh electoral districts are being affected by the caterpillars. Gbarney, a town in Bong’s third district with approximately 2,500 people, is one of the worst-hit communities.
The town chief of Gbarney, James Halawaga, says the caterpillars surfaced in the town and nearby bushes a week ago. If nothing is done soon, Halawaga said the caterpillars could overtake most of the crops in town.
“The caterpillars can block the farm roads than we can be jumping in the cocoa bushes to go on our farms, even on the various farms they are there,” Halawaga explained.
The caterpillars are blocking the roads and eating up leaves of plants and contaminating streams and creeks that locals use for drinking and washing, according to Halawaga.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency in Bong, Victor Gbelee, has confirmed to The Bush Chicken the presence of caterpillars in several communities in the county.
Gbelee said the EPA visited three of the communities to authenticate the information after several reports of the caterpillar outbreak appeared in local media outlets in the county.
“We have communicated with the Ministries of Agriculture and Health about the issue. We also communicated with our national office and we are awaiting words from our bosses in Monrovia,” Gbelee said in a telephone interview on Sunday.
The Ministry of Agriculture’s local office in Bong has also confirmed the caterpillar infestation.
The Agriculture Ministry’s coordinator for Bong, Kollie Nahn, said the central office would begin making interventions in curbing the caterpillar outbreak in the county on Monday or Tuesday this week.
Nahn said the local office in the county is incapacitated to respond to the outbreak.
“A team is coming from the ministry to do [an] observation of the situation and take the needed action,” Nahn said in an interview on Sunday.
Nahn said the various agriculture coordinators in the affected districts in Bong have informed him that the caterpillars become more aggressive when the sun is shining and subside during rains.
Like Gbarney, people in Garyea, Raymond Town, and Pastor Village in Suakoko District are soliciting urgent interventions to stop a further spread of the caterpillars.
“We need people to come and help us. We lack the technical knowhow to deal with the caterpillars. They go around our plants and eat the leaves,” George Porkpah, the chief of Raymond Town, told Radio Gbarnga on Friday.
Featured photo by Obe Smith