HARARE – The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement is training peri-urban farmers in Harare on the identification and control of the fall armyworm, a pest that has wreaked havoc in most farming areas.
The programme is part of the 100 day quick wins programme. The Ministry’s Department of Plant Protection and Research Institute (PPRI) yesterday trained scores of peri-urban farmers at Eyerstone Farm in Harare South ward one.
The training included the importance of scouting the fields, identification of the fall armyworm, available chemicals and correct control measures.
PPRI acting director Shingirayi Nyamutukwa said the training also included practicals to ensure effective control of the pest.
“The training is men at to capacitate farmers with knowledge and resources to fight the fall armyworm. We will also distribute knapsack sprayers and chemicals and teach the farmers on how best to carry out the spraying.
“We are encouraging farmers to constantly scout their crops so that they can identify pestsinfestation early before the pests would have done extensive damage to the crop. We also recommend on the safe use of chemicals,” he said.
He said farmers had been having challenges identifying the fall armyworm with others mistaking other crops pests with the fall armyworm.
Mr Nyamutukwa said it was important for the farmer to correctly identify the pest for effective control measures.
“By correctly identifying the pest, the farmer will be able to use the correct control measures,” he said. He raise concern over the fall armyworm which he said was different to the traditional African armyworm that was easy to control.
“The fall armyworm does not only appear on the surface and it is difficult to control. It is better to control the best at the stage of eggs. Farmers should be able to identify eggs and squash thyme or they can spray when the maize is still young for effective control,” he said.
Harare South farmer coordinator Fungai Museti said the problem of armyworm had been affecting farmers in his area since last year.
“Most of the peri-urban farmers in this area have been producing food for household and national food security. We send our grain to Chitungwiza Grain Marketing. We are afraid if the pest is not controlled on time it can greatly reduce our yields,” he said.
Another farmer Nancy Muzunze said she had been struggling with the fall armyworm this season.
“This is a noble programme but we feel it is a bit late. My crop is at advanced stage which makes it difficult to spray the pest. Experts should not wait for outbreaks to teach us about pests.
“I am happy that we are going to get chemicals and knapsack to assist us in spraying the pest,” she said.