|Armyworm outbreak in Chegutu|
|Wednesday, 21 December 2011 00:00|
An armyworm outbreak in Chegutu district has destroyed more than 500 hectares of crops and pastures with nearly 10 hectares of maize now a write off.
The leaf-eating worms were first discovered on Wednesday last week and have spread to most farms in the area.
Farmers at Hopewell Farm in Chegutu where the pest has done a lot of damage said they received chemicals that cover two hectares only.
When The Herald visited the affected farmers yesterday, the worms were averaging 20 per plant.
Mrs Dephine Nkomo of Hopewell Farm said she reported the outbreak to Agritex and was given inadequate chemicals.
The farmers complained that Agritex officers were not visiting the affected areas to assess the magnitude of the damage.
"I had to write a note to the Agritex officer informing him that the chemicals were not enough and he said I should go and buy more chemicals," Mrs Nkomo said.
She said it was unfortunate that the crop that was severely attacked was the germinating crop.
"Most farmers had replanted and the crop was germinating. Now it has been destroyed and we do not know where to get more seed and fertilisers," she said.
Some of the farmers said the planting deadline had passed and even if they continued to plant they would get low yields.
The farmers said they had borrowed funds from banks.
In other cases the farmers complained that the Carbaryl they received was ineffective and they suspected that it had expired.
Mr Fred Kashiri of the same area said many farmers were resorting to using other chemicals and cotton pesticides to kill the armyworm.
"The chemical we got is not doing anything and we have tried other chemicals. Now we are using Dimethoate which is giving better results," he said.
According to Agritex, armyworm outbreaks have been recorded in Kanyemba in Mashonaland Central and Zvimba, Mashonaland West.
Plant Protection Institute director Dr Godfrey Chikwenhere assured farmers that the department was prepared to supply all 10 provinces with chemicals in the event of a widespread outbreak of the armyworm.
"Farmers should have nothing to fear as we are able to control the outbreak."