Fall Armyworm outbreak hits Midlands province

By Tafara Chikumira
THE MIDLANDS province has been hit by an outbreak of Africa fall armyworm which is threatening livestock pastures and crops. Farmers in the province are in a panic mode.
So deadly is the mode of operation by the Africa fall armyworm that once it strikes, it can leave a hectare of pastures and crop finished within a day as the worms quickly multiply within a short space of time.
Farmers in Somabhula say they are now worried for their livestock as their pastures have been invaded by the worms amid fears that they may eventually attack their crop.
Midlands, provincial crop and livestock officer, Mrs Madeline Magwenzi says the government is on the ground employing some intervention measures while urging farmers to complement the efforts in dealing with the pending crisis.
“The situation is not looking good. We already have depleted pastures due to drought and these African armyworms are targeting the small grazing areas that were beginning to show life. For grazing areas, we are giving farmers carbral which has no after-effects. For maize, we are dishing out Lawdan to take out the worms. Although we are responding to affected areas we are saying farmers should also play their part in preserving the little we have,” she said.
The province is already reeling under the effects of the El Nino induced drought which has seen thousands of livestock deaths with a number of areas like Mberengwa and Gokwe north yet to plant some crops this summer cropping season as they are yet to receive adequate rainfall. The fall armyworm is one of many transboundary outbreaks Zimbabwe has been fighting over the past three years.
The government’s approach to managing fall armyworm outbreaks has been to train extension officers and to raise awareness among farming stakeholders, to contain and manage fall armyworm outbreaks. Fall armyworm, which attacks mainly corn, was first discovered in Brazil.