‘Pests can cause huge economic losses’

Source: ‘Pests can cause huge economic losses’ | The Herald

‘Pests can cause huge economic losses’
Locusts can cause serious damage to sorghum, maize and pastures, as they and other pests breed abundantly in wetter conditions with rapid vegetation growth

Sharon Shayanewako

WITH the country expecting improved yields from last year’s, the Government has urged farmers to report any pest outbreaks that can trigger huge economic losses if not contained and derail the nation’s charge towards Vision 2030.

This is in line with the country’s objective of boosting agricultural productivity, food security and self-sufficiency at all costs.

Migratory Pests and Biosecurity Control (MPBC) acting director Mr Shingirai Nyamutukwa yesterday said farmers should be on the lookout for pests and diseases and report them at once for effective control.

“It is the duty of farmers to increase surveillance in their fields, observe the growth of the crops as well as identify the pests, which may affect the growth of their crops.

“As a department, we are ready to deal with all kinds of pests, for example, the fall armyworm, African armyworm and leaf miners that may compromise the projected yields. It is the duty of the farmers to report any kind of pests to our offices in various districts countrywide so that they can be contained before they damage crops. Our aim is to prevent the build-up of pests, which is obviously a threat to food security,” he said.

Mr Nyamutukwa added that the department would also be providing advisory services through outreach programmes carried out by visiting farmers and sharing knowledge on Integrated Pest Management options for them to choose from biological, cultural and chemical controls as the last resort for all pest management.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president, Dr Shadreck Makombe, applauded the Government’s move saying it was one step towards food security.

“This initiative by the Government is indeed a positive move in the right direction considering that pests and diseases are the major causes of reduced crop productivity, hence controlling pests will assure the country of bumper harvests. This will reduce food imports since we will be self-sufficient,” he commented.

According to recent updates from the Department of Migratory Pests Control, 700kg of carbaryl is currently on stand-by in case of outbreaks.

Pests and diseases have been a threat to summer subsistence crops in Zimbabwe for years. If not controlled adequately, they can effect huge losses through reduced yields.

For now, the country has not recorded any major pest outbreaks save for moth catches that have been recorded in Mazowe, Chisumbanje, Banket and Beatrice. Close monitoring of the new crop is ongoing to ensure outbreaks, if any, are controlled before they spiral out of control.