The Zimbabwean government says fall armyworm has destroyed nearly 150 000 hectares of the maize in all 10 provinces of the country.
According to the preliminary findings of an impact survey done by the Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex), the current fall armyworm (FAW) outbreak poses a threat to national food security after decimating 148 489 hectares, or 15% of the975 913 planted nationally.
“Fall armyworm infestations are hovering around 6% in most provinces, and the national average infestation rate is at 15%. In addition to maize, about 2 000 hectares of sorghum crop has been infested across the country. This is our preliminary assessment, the exercise is continuing and we hope to have verified figures soon,” said Agritex’s Rutendo Nhongonhema.
Agritex has partnered the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in training agricultural extension workers and farmers to form Command Agricultural Taskforces (CTCs) that help with the distribution of chemicals, spraying equipment and protective clothing.
To date, 5 119 agricultural extension officers and 635 921 farmers have been trained to identify, manage and control FAW. However, lack of information and farmers’ inability to differentiate FAW from other worms has complicated mitigation efforts.
“Most farmers still cannot positively identify the fall armyworm. For instance, they cannot tell the difference between the fall armyworm, the stalk borer and African armyworm. Due to this, wrong control strategies by both staff and farmers are common,” Nhongonhema said.
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