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Agriculture Indonsakusa Provincial Newspapers

Armyworm traps set in province

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THE Ministry of Agriculture has put in place nearly 170 Fall armyworm traps across
the country.

This cones as part of measures to detect any Fall armyworm infestation early and to
take effective counter-measures before serious damage is done to crops.

The traps are expected to minimise damage to crops, especially maize, in light of the
expected El Nino conditions, which are likely to enhance the invasion and breeding
of the exotic pests.

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development has
established 40 traps in Mashonaland West, 40 in Mashonaland East, and 15 each in
Mashonaland Central, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Masvingo,
Midlands and Manicaland.

Migratory pest and biosecurity, acting deputy director, Simbarashe Nyamasoka
recently said it is crucial to give farmers early warning of the arrival of any
armyworm.

“As we are experiencing El Nino this farming season, we need to be alert and
farmers should know that insects such as Fall armyworm multiply in numbers. The El
Nino has seen an increase in temperatures so the higher, the temperatures the
faster the rate of reproduction of these adult armyworms, hence a need to control
them. What we need now is for the traps to be monitored so that farmers see the
moth. If they find any moths, they should report to the Department of Agritex or the
closest extension officer,’’ he said.

The African armyworm and Fall armyworm are different caterpillars with the Fall
armyworm attacking maize fields and the African armyworm attacking pastures.
There is need to scout more frequently so as to control both these caterpillars on
time.

Fall armyworm is a migratory pest, which attacks maize and has the potential to
cause significant yield losses if not controlled.

It was first noticed in Africa in January 2016, causing major damage to crops in
several West African countries, according to the International Institute of Tropical
Agriculture.

Fall armyworm is a new pest in Zimbabwe and causes extensive damage to maize if
not controlled properly and on time. The pest can have up to 10 to 12 breeding
cycles in a season and can continue recurring after the first spray, so farmers need
to be ready to react promptly.

The African armyworm can also cause indirect losses to livestock if an outbreak
occurs in pastures, which can cause starvation and severe poisoning when cattle
graze on pastures recently infested by the armyworm. Armyworms march along the
ground and attack crops, as they search for food. They are a threat to the country’s
efforts at attaining food security in line with the Government’s push to cut the food
import bill.

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