Source: Zimbabwe on high armyworm alert | The Herald January 6, 2017
Prosper Ndlovu Bulawayo Bureau
ZIMBABWE is on high alert for a possible armyworm attack on crops with Government encouraging farmers and extension officers across the country to take precautionary measures.
In view of the recent invasion of armyworms in the Zambian maize fields, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said yesterday that the ministry had put in place mechanisms to avert destruction of crops by the pest.
He urged farmers and extension officers to monitor their crops each day and detect any attacks early to enable timely and effective control measures.
“Farmers should be on alert and be on the fields at sunrise to scout for these insects. Here in Zimbabwe we started with the fall worm that attacked mainly Matabeleland North with the early planted maize under Command Agriculture.
“What happens with various worms is that when we are coming out of drought it means most of the material that they feed on will not be available in the veld. So any irrigated crop becomes the first target because it is the first green material that is there,” said Dr Made at a Press briefing in Bulawayo.
“And if your weather is such that there is sunshine and rain, it is very conducive to the breeding and habitat of the army worm.
“So, what we have in Zambia in this case is the army worm and it is residing in the Zambian river systems. That is the first outbreak.”
He said local farmers need to work closely with their extension officers and report any cases of attacks on crops by armyworms and locusts.
“We have to be on full alert in Zimbabwe and the alerts have already been given and the best way is to scout very early on.
“When you see the worm already grown, it is a little bit too late to control it. It becomes a bit difficult but we must tell our farmers to scout and there are certain traps that we have already put in order to trap the moth in its moth form,” he said.
“So, we are on full alert on that particular aspect. Obviously, once the outbreak is there everybody has got to play their part.
“But the first people who play a part are the farmers and the extension people. It is a notifiable pest and we immediately move in to control as a country. And once we have an armyworm we must also be alert on the locusts as well because these pests and insects are kind of interrelated.”
Zambian President Edgar Lungu recently had to call the military to help farmers contain an invasion on the maize crops by the insects, the country’s official media reported.
“The president is concerned that if the outbreak of the worms is not controlled speedily, the crop yield for 2016/2017 may be negatively affected,” President Lungu’s spokesperson said in a recent statement.
Military planes were used to spray pesticides to the worst-affected areas in the neighbouring country so as to protect crops. Army worms eat most vegetation in their way and can destroy entire fields.
Media reports indicate the insects posed a threat to crops in six Zambian provinces.
Zimbabwe has not been immune to armyworm attacks and over the years some farmers have been forced to replant after their crops were destroyed by these insects.