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Armyworm threat not yet over’

Tawanda Mangoma in CHIREDZI
Government has warned farmers not to relax in the fight against fall armyworm, saying the yield threatening creature is likely to resurface as it is hibernating underground. In an interview with The Herald, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said the victory against the fall armyworm was short-lived

He said the pest would protrude from the soil when new plants start developing.

With the rains still falling in areas like the Lowveld, Minister Made said the fall armyworm was likely to come from hibernation to start destroying fresh grass which would develop due to the rains.

Dr Made said the media should continue educating farmers about the foreign worm, which invaded and damaged tonnes of crop foliage this farming season.

“I would like to urge all farmers in Zimbabwe to continue scouting for fall armyworm, it is still there,” he said. “Its hibernating, check your maize stalks, maize cobs, your sorghum and check in whatever crop you might think of.

“This creature is deadly and can even hide underneath the grass. Farmers must closely inspect their soils, so as to ascertain if the fall armyworm is not hiding there.”

Minister Made said the challenge was that most extension workers did not understand the cycle of the fall armyworm and that left most farmers exposed.

“Most of our extension workers lack the knowledge about the fall armyworm,” he said. “Now, see how bad the situation is. The farmer will ask his extension adviser about a creature destroying his crop, but surprisingly he will not get a comprehensive response that will help him combat the offensive pest.”

Minister Made warned sugarcane farmers to closely inspect their crop since the fall armyworm might pose serious problems to their harvests.

“Get into the sugarcane plantations and inspect if everything is okay,” he said. “This pest can destroy your sugarcane crop, it just needs soft spots on the crop, but a quick reaction will save the farmer from excessive loss.”

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