THE horticulture industry is under threat from false codling, a quarantine pest which attacks fruits and vegetables at all stages of development.
The pest, which breeds and spreads rapidly in wet conditions, has mainly affected avocado, paprika, chillies, horticulture products and citrus plantations in Manicaland, Matabeleland South, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Masvingo.
Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Retired Air Chief Marshall Perrance Shiri said Government has dispatched teams to apply chemicals and test their effectiveness in fighting the pest in the affected areas.
“The ministry has measures already put in place. Chemicals are being assessed and they have to follow the export requirements in terms of maximum residue limits and acceptability on the market,” he said.
Minister Shiri said officials from his ministry are working with research institutions in assessing the chemicals.
“We are using trapping protocols by the Citrus Research Institute while the Plant Protection Research Institute and Plant Quarantine Services are also leading the efforts to reduce the impact of the pest on export crops,” he said.
There have been complaints from the export market over the presence of the pest in Zimbabwean farm produce.
Last year, the horticulture sector was affected by the tuta absoluta pest which targets tomatoes and Government had to import chemicals from Zambia.
In 2016, the country recorded $54 million from horticulture produce exports, representing a 10 percent increase from the prior year’s $49 million. The sector is targeting to reach $200 million by 2020.
Zimbabwe largely exports to the European Union and Asian markets.