Govt iden­ti­fies pes­ti­cides for the erad­i­ca­tion of fall army­worm

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Du­misani Nsingo Se­nior Farm­ing Re­porter

A GOVERN­MENT re­search in­sti­tu­tion, Plant Pro­tec­tion Re­search In­sti­tute, has iden­ti­fied and rec­om­mended 10 pes­ti­cides for the erad­i­ca­tion of fall army­worm which threat­ened to ham­per the coun­try’s 2016/17 sum­mer sea­son maize crop yield.

Plant Pro­tec­tion Re­search In­sti­tute act­ing head Mr Shin­gi­rayi Nya­mu­tukwa said the 10 pests killing chem­i­cals pro­duced by var­i­ous man­u­fac­tur­ers were al­ready on the mar­ket. The pes­ti­cides were part of the nu­mer­ous chem­i­cals that were given tem­po­rary reg­is­tra­tion af­ter a fall army worm out­break through­out the coun­try last sea­son.

“We con­ducted tri­als just to make sure and ver­ify which lev­els or con­cen­tra­tions of chem­i­cals should be ap­plied by farm­ers. In ac­tual fact, we are look­ing at the cor­rect rates. This is what we have been do­ing be­cause when there were out­breaks and farm­ers were cry­ing out that the pest was caus­ing a lot of dam­age, there was need to pro­vi­sion­ally regis­ter some chem­i­cals for use while tri­als were be­ing con­ducted. What we are say­ing right now is that we have done tri­als on 10 chem­i­cals and very soon we will be avail­ing these to farm­ers once our pro­ce­dures have been con­cluded within the Re­search Ser­vices Di­vi­sion,” said Mr Nya­mu­tukwa.

Zim­babwe’s re­sponse to the out­break of the fall army­worm was ham­pered by farm­ers’ lack of in­for­ma­tion and pes­ti­cides to fight it. This threat­ened to worsen the food inse­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion as it tar­geted the sta­ple crop-maize.

“The fall army­worm was re­ported in all prov­inces and it was quite dev­as­tat­ing. We had chal­lenges here and there es­pe­cially with re­spect to ac­cess­ing dif­fer­ent crop dam­age and yield losses as it was a heavy rain sea­son,” said Mr Nya­mu­tukwa.

He how­ever, com­mended the Govern­ment for ex­pe­dit­ing its in­ter­ven­tion strate­gies which avoided a catas­tro­phe.

“While we in­curred some losses, I would like to com­mend the ef­forts we had to put in place through Govern­ment where we had to un­der­take sev­eral train­ing pro­grammes in all prov­inces to en­sure that mes­sages were re­ceived timeously for farm­ers to scout early their crops even at veg­e­ta­tive and pro­duc­tive stages and that ac­tu­ally helped in avert­ing a lot of losses that we were go­ing to in­cur had that in­ter­ven­tion not been im­ple­mented.

“I must say that with the cor­rect man­age­ment we called on farm­ers to em­ploy as well as scout­ing (of pests). We man­aged to avert a lot of losses that were go­ing to in­curred. We are not talk­ing of much losses be­cause once you con­trol the pest the crop ac­tu­ally quickly re­cov­ers . . . so with that re­cov­ery the crop will re­pro­duce and give a very good cob,” said Mr Nya­mu­tukwa.

Fall army­worm can be one of the more dif­fi­cult in­sect pests to con­trol in field corn. Late planted fields and late ma­tur­ing hy­brids are more likely to be­come in­fested. Fall army­worm causes se­ri­ous leaf feed­ing dam­age as well as di­rect in­jury to the ear. While fall army­worms can dam­age corn plants in nearly all stages of de­vel­op­ment, it will con­cen­trate on later plant­ings that have not yet skilled.

Mr Nya­mu­tukwa said tri­als were un­der­way to come up with pes­ti­cides to erad­i­cate another pest, the tomato leaf miner or tuta ab­so­luta that caused havoc to the tomato crop in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try the pre­vi­ous sea­son.

“We were also do­ing tri­als on which chem­i­cals should be used for man­age­ment of tuta ab­so­luta. So we are go­ing to fin­ish our tri­als soon and we will fol­low the same pro­ce­dures we have done with chem­i­cals for the man­age­ment of fall army­worm then we should be pro­vid­ing rec­om­men­da­tions soon for farm­ers to use the chem­i­cals that we are con­duct­ing tri­als on and I am sure a so­lu­tion is go­ing to be avail­able to farm­ers soon,” he said.

Mr Nya­mu­tukwa said the out­break of tomato leaf miner was very dev­as­ta­tive and greatly af­fected most hor­ti­cul­tural pro­duc­ers’ en­ter­prises.

“In terms of toma­toes, the tomato leaf miner was quite dev­as­tat­ing. I will give an ex­am­ple of farm­ers who in a small plot had har­vested about 400 crates of toma­toes, sell­ing each crate at $20 and got about $8 000 and man­aged to buy a truck and so forth but in the fol­low­ing crop they didn’t re­alise even half that num­ber of crates and in terms of price there was a price drop of $7 from $20 to $13.

“So you can imag­ine the loss in terms of fruit qual­ity and what it means in terms of loss price per crate. So I must say tomato leaf miner was quite dev­as­tat­ing and farm­ers re­ally cried foul but very soon, like I in­di­cated, we should be hav­ing a so­lu­tion that we will be pro­vid­ing the farm­ers for use in con­trol­ling the pest,” he said.

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