Shortage threatens efforts to fight African worm
An acute shortage of suitable insecticides threatens efforts to fight the African Army Worm.
Public relations officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Moreri Moesi confirmed this week that the ministry was experiencing acute shortage of Alphamethrin and Cypermethrin, two pyrethroids widely used in the control of the worm.
He said government was working round the clock to secure the pesticide and advised that farmers should in the meantime ensure their fields were weed free as the worm tended to first eat grass and weeds before jumping to maize and sorghum related plants. He advised farmers who wished to do their own spraying to only do so wearing adequate protective clothing as the spray could have adverse health effects.
While most farmers were dependent on government to help eliminate the worm from their fields, the few that tried to buy pyrethroids could not get them because most suppliers said the insecticide would only be available next week.
So severe is the attack of the worm that some farmers have already predicted a famine year should the worm not be adequately controlled.
“The worm’s invasion should be seen as a threat to national food security. It is a crisis that calls not only for government, but also for farmers as individuals and as collectives to do everything possible to eliminate the worm,” said a prominent Molepolole farmer, Mr Mackenzie Taukonong. The farmers in particular must realize that government would be inundated by requests to spray and queues would be long. Therefore, they should not wait for agriculture personnel but secure the insecticide and spray their fields.
Mr Taukobong said he arranged a crisis meeting with farmers in his area to devise a fight back strategy, which he hoped would help farmers salvage something from this year’s crop.
Sadly, some farmers appeared not to be monitoring their fields for infestation, or could not recognise or identify the worm.
“I only saw the worm in my field on Tuesday, but was not sure that it was the enemy as I was seeing only a few of the worms. I had expected to find swarms of the worm – like an army, as its name suggests,” said Mrs Maipelo Kwenaetsile of Kweneng South. It was only after getting a full description of the worm that she went to look at it again and found it was indeed the African Army Worm and that it had multiplied and was devouring maize and sorghum seedlings. While she reported the infestation, she was afraid the worm would have destroyed all her crops by the time her turn to get assistance from the spraying team arrives. ENDS
Source : BOPA
Author : BOPA
Location : GABORONE