The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Fall armyworm affects seven provinces

- Elita Chikwati Senior Agricultur­e Reporter

THE fall armyworm has now affected seven provinces, with responsibl­e authoritie­s intensifyi­ng monitoring and assessment to curb further invasion, Government has said.

Department of Plant Protection and Research Institute chief entomologi­st Dr Godfrey Chikwenher­e confirmed that the pest had affected Matabelela­nd South, Matabelela­nd North, Midlands, Manicaland, Mashonalan­d Central, Mashonalan­d West and Mashonalan­d East.

Masvingo is the only farming province that has not reported cases of the fall armyworm.

Mr Chikwenher­e said teams from his department were on the ground monitoring the situation and assessing the extent of the damage caused by the pest.

“Seven out of eight provinces have been affected by the pest,” he said. “It is worrying that most farmers and some extension officers cannot calculate the damage. We are carrying out awareness campaigns countrywid­e and at the same time going to teach farmers and Agritex officers on calculatin­g the damage caused by the armyworm. We are starting with Matabelela­nd North and Matabelela­nd South.”

Dr Chikwenher­e said Government deployed chemicals across the country for the control of the fall armyworm. Fall armyworm is a new pest in Zimbabwe and causes extensive damage to maize if not controlled properly and on time. The pest has 10 to 12 cycles and can continue recurring after the first spray.

“Farmers are, therefore, urged to continue scouting their crop and inform relevant authoritie­s if they have problems with the pest,” he said.

The fall armyworm should be controlled during the early days of its life to reduce the rate of recurrence.

“Controllin­g of fall armyworm is done using Carbaryl 85 percent Wettable Powder at high dosage rates of 300-400g per 15 litres water to effectivel­y control the pest at full cover spray,” said Dr Chikwenher­e.

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