Farmers in some districts in North Western Province have expressed worry over the presence of fall armyworms that are ravaging their maize fields.
A check by the National Agriculture Information Services – NAIS in Kabompo, Manyinga, Mufumbwe, and Zambezi districts of North Western province found the presence of the fall armyworms in some selected fields in these districts.
One of the farmers in Kampombo district, David Kapwepwe has called on the government to help him and the others farmers who have been affected by the presence of the fall armyworms in their maize fields.
“As you can see, my maize has been attacked by fall armyworms,” he said
Mr Kapwepwe added that it’s through the office of the District Agriculture Officer where they have been collecting some chemicals, as he hopes that within two weeks they should have the chemicals or they risk losing their maize being destroyed.
And Reuben Chiyuka, a farmer in Zambezi district, has appealed to the government through the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that agriculture officers and others come early to the farmers fields to check on what is happening, and help them with the required chemicals to help get rid of the fall armyworm.
Both Kabompo district and Mfumbwe district Agriculture Coordinator Peter Maseka confirmed the presence of armyworms in the two districts respectively, adding that officers are on the ground to ascertain the extent of the damage interms of the hectares affacted in the districts.
And Peter Chibizwa a District Agriculture Coordinator – DACO in Kabompo district noted that the Agriculture experts are aware of the presence of fall armyworms in the farmers fields, adding that the presence of the armyworms in the district is quite a challenge as reportts are coming and as government they hope that something will be urgently done to assist the farmers.
Mr Chibizwa has since urged the farmers not to just sit back and just wait for the government but rather buy the chemicals on their own from the Agro dealer shops and use to save their crops.
And Peter Maseka from DACO Mufumbwe district said that spot checks have been done by their camp extension officers who are still trying to find out how much hecterage has been affected.
And the District Intervention Offices have assured the farmers that interventions to secure the crops will be quickly put into consideration and in place.
Emmanuel Nkweto a Crop Husbandry Officer in Manyinga district mentioned that their officers are on the ground to install the traps that will ensure that the male moths of the fall worms are reduced.
Mr Nkweto disclosed that the government has indicated that they will continue to support farmers especially the small holder farmers with the needed chemicals to help curb the widespread fall of the fall armyworm.
Timely distribution of the chemicals by the government will help save the maize fields.
Meanwhile, the Technical Centre for Climate Change and Agricultural Development has given guidelines on how the widespread of armyworms can be curbed.There are several methods for controlling and managing army worm infestations in agricultural crops.
Some of these methods that can be put in place to curb fall armyworms include the use of biological controls, such as introducing natural predators of army worms into the affected area. For example, some species of birds, such as starlings and sparrows, will feed on army worms. Additionally, some species of parasitic wasps can be effective at controlling army worm populations.
Another method for controlling armyworms is the use of chemical pesticides. However, it is important to use pesticides carefully and only when necessary, as overuse can harm beneficial insects and other organisms in the environment. It is also important to choose a pesticide that is specifically designed to target army worms, as using a general-purpose pesticide may not be effective.
Farmers can also use cultural control methods to manage army worm infestations. This can include practices such as crop rotation, which can help to break the life cycle of the army worms, and maintaining healthy soil, which can make crops less susceptible to infestations. Additionally, farmers can monitor their crops regularly for signs of army worm activity and take action as soon as an infestation is detected such as removing and destroying infected plants. If the infestation is limited to a small area, it may be possible to simply remove and destroy the infected plants to help control the army worm population.
Using physical barriers, such as mesh screens or protective covers, to prevent armyworms from reaching the crops. This can be effective in preventing new infestations, but will not control an existing infestation.
Planting resistant varieties of crops. Some varieties of crops are more resistant to armyworm damage, so planting these varieties can help to reduce the risk of an infestation.
Monitoring the area regularly and taking action as soon as an infestation is detected. Early detection and intervention are key to effectively controlling army worms and minimizing damage to crops.
It is important to consult with a local agricultural expert or extension agent to determine the most appropriate and effective method of controlling army worms in your area.