Army Worm Here to Stay: FAO

Image Credit: BBC

Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has said that fall armyworm, a pest that attacked the maize plants across Zimbabwe is here to stay during the Stakeholder Inception Workshop: Fall Armyworm Technical Cooperation Project that took place in Harare today.

Constance Pepukai, who was representing FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa Dr David Phiri listed conditions such as climate change having some impacts on the fall armyworm.

“The whole of Southern Africa is affected except for Lesotho and island nations” said Pepukai.

Entomologist and researcher Dr Godfrey Chikwenhere said he heard reports that the sorghum was also attacked but it had not been verified. Although the worm is causing losses in agriculture, FAO said that use of pesticides should be minimum.

An authority who was at the workshop weighed in and said that application of chemicals for uses that they are not ascribed to will not be allowed in the next farming season.

“We are not going to allow people to use chemicals anyhow like what they did last year. We have to also look at other side effects,” said the authority.

Farmers used and experimented with every chemical they got hold of to control the fall armyworm in the last cropping season with some even using laundry detergents which raise environmental problems.

An agricultural expert who gave closing remarks during the workshop, Irvine Craig said that Fall Armyworm Project that was also discussed during the workshop would manage the pest which attacked the unprepared nation in the past farming season.

“Yes, we can manage it (fall army worm). It is very possible” said Craig.

“We will train farmers on identification because you cannot fight something that you don’t know… The person who controls it is the farmer”.

Farmers could not identify the new pest that attacked their crops in the past season with some confusing with the African armyworm and other pests. The latestoutbreak to hit Southern Africa was reported in all the provinces of Zimbabwe.

Agricultural experts who were in the meeting said that damage caused by the fall armyworm in Mashonaland East province is estimated at 2 500 hectares and  4 000 hectares for Manicaland.

Damage to crops by the worm in the whole country for the 2016-2017 farming season had not been fully done. Brazil has lost US$600 million in the fight against the armyworms that is reportedly also found in other crops.

Fall Armyworm Technical Cooperation Project was launched during the meeting as stakeholders discussed on fighting back the latest pest. FAO gave US$275 thousand to finance the war.

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