Features

days of armyworms numbered

PROFILE: MINISTER of Livestock Michael Katambo (right) sprays insecticide (Lambdacyhalothrin) on an army-worms infested maize field in Masaiti District. On the left is Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Julius Shawa and farmer Daniel Makwenda (middle). PICTURE: STAFRANCE ZULU

VIOLET MENGO, Chongwe
FOR five years now, Nyambe Mweene, a small-scale farmer in Mwamungule in Chongwe district, Lusaka, has been helplessly fighting to rid his maize field of fall armyworms that have reduced his harvest year after year.
Mr Mweene grows maize, beans, cowpeas and groundnuts on two hectares of land, but since 2016, his maize crop has been attacked by armyworms.
Armyworms are crop pests – the larvae of a fall armyworm moth – that feed on young maize plants, and also attack other cereal crops such as wheat, rice, sorghum, millet and most grass pastures.
They feed with such devastating speed that by the time they are discovered, notable damage would already have been caused.
For Mr Mweene, dealing with the armyworms is a puzzle.
β€œIn 2017, a large portion of the maize crops were terribly infested with armyworms. I am not sure what is causing the increase of the pest attack, maybe it could be the weather changes,” speculates Mr Mweene.
Out of the three hectares he planted in 2016, Mweene estimated the damage to be up to a quarter of a hectare.
In Chongwe alone, a number of smallholder farmers have reported damage to their crops by the armyworms in varying proportions since 2016.
Chongwe district agriculture officer John Lungu said the 2019/2020 farming season saw the district affected by the fall armyworms. However, he notes a reduction in the current season.
Mr Lungu attributes the reduction in the infestation to the heavy rains and CLICK TO READ MORE




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