Larger grain borers have surfaced in Zambia’s Northern Province, heightening concerns that the pests will cause damage to the region’s harvest.
The Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) also advised smallholder farmers to budget for the purchase of chemicals* to combat fall armyworm.
The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) said grain borers were discovered at a holding depot in Chilubi District. The discovery sparked fears that it might spread to other areas through contamination.
“We are fumigating the affected depot to get rid of the grain borers and prevent spreading though contamination, as maize was being purchased from different areas,” said FRA Executive Director Chola Kafwabulula.
There are two species of the grain-eating insect: smaller grain borers (Rhyzopertha dominica) measuring about 1/8 of an inch long and larger grain borers (Prostephanus truncates) that are about twice as long. Both infest and thrive on the same type of food. The pests bore into grain and grain-based products like maiza and cassava.
Marketing coordinator at the affected depot, Timothy Chanda said the larger borers were found in the holding facility. It is filled with 5 000 tons of maize.
“If left unattended, these pests will destroy the grain,” said Chanda.
He said grain borers are a recurring problem in the area. Similar incidents were recorded last year.
Meanwhile, ZARI chief researcher Mweshi Mukanga said another fall armyworm invasion is inevitable because of favourable and prevailing climatic conditions for its breeding.
“Small-scale farmers are encouraged to not only use e-vouchers for seed and fertiliser, but to also procure chemicals for various pests that may attack their crops,” Dr. Mukanga told delegates at the Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa’s (APPSA) annual science meeting in Lusaka.
*Please ensure the products you use are registered in your country. Consult a qualified specialist in your area.