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Fall armyworm outbreak expected

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As good rains are expected for the 2017/18 crop season, another outbreak of the armyworms in expected across Southern Africa.

Percy Misika, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Energy told Nampa the chances of the outbreak are high.

Misika said the country is ready to fight the anticipated outbreak.

“As part of preparation, the ministry worked hard to create awareness of fall armyworms among the farmers for them to be able to take action on time, he said.

With support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, about 30 agricultural scientific officers and technicians from the ministry were trained in how to handle fall armyworms.

“The training focused on strengthening their capacity on pest diagnostics, monitoring, containment and pest damage symptoms and available management options,” said Misika.

After the agricultural officers and technicians completed their training, they passed the knowledge on to farmers in their respective regions.

The ministry received insect traps that use pheromones to lure insects from the FAO and these will be placed randomly in farmers’ fields.

According to Misika, the traps will help farmers to monitor the presence of mature moths in the field and serve as a warning system for farmers to start visiting and walking through their fields at least once a week

He further said the ministry also procured limited pesticides to assist farmers, however farmers are urged to procure available pesticides from registered agro-chemical dealers across the country.

Meanwhile Misika said the outbreak will be a consequence of the insects life cycle.

“Insects in the pupal stage in winter only start hatching once the weather conditions become more favourable.”