Fall armyworm threatens yields


FARMERS have warned that if the fall armyworm is not controlled, it has potential to reduce yields at a time when Zimbabwe is already bearing the brunt of the 2018/2019 farming season drought.

The fall armyworm is being reported across the country, particularly in Mashonaland provinces while the African armyworm has been reported in parts of the Midlands Province.

The farmers attribute the incidence of the fall armyworm and African armyworm to increased high temperatures which provide the best conditions for the multiplication of the pests.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) executive director Paul Zakaria told the Daily News that both large scale and small holder farmers were finding it difficult to control the pests.

He added that some farmers were now resorting to desperate measures to contain the pests that eat up all plant material it encounters among them sorghum, millet, rice, wheat and sugar cane as well as maize.
“The fall armyworm is a huge problem for all categories of producers. It is true that desperate farmers are using desperate means to contain the scourge.

“Prices for basic chemicals have skyrocketed well beyond the reach of many. Large-scale producers are not spared. If not checked and dealt with, the fall armyworm can significantly reduce yields,” said Zakaria.
Some small-scale farmers are reportedly using sand, rabbit urine, ash, ground chilli mixed with water to try and stop the fall armyworm plague which has drastically eaten into yields amid the backdrop of skyrocketing costs of pesticides soaring far beyond the reach of many.

Last year, a joint study by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre and Goal Zimbabwe on the fall armyworm estimated that the pest destroyed 20 percent of 791 smallholder maize in 2018. This left over five million people food insecure in 2019.

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