Armyworms: A Threat To National Food Security
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- Age 21
Currently, Southern Africa has been invaded by armyworms which are mainly attacking crops such as maize before they are fully grown. But what are armyworms? Armyworms are the destructive caterpillar or larvae stage of the moth Spodoptera and can grow up to three centimeters. The young caterpillars though, are small and green and difficult to see on their green host plants.
According to CCN Zimbabwe is the most affected among the Southern African States with armyworms present in seven of the country’s eight provinces, however, Zambia is not at all immune to these pests as it has been reported by the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) that 63 thousand 975 farmers in the country have been affected by the destructive worms. DMMU added that over 89 thousand hectors of maize field have been affected with central province being the most affected followed by Copperbelt and Lusaka provinces.
To respond to the armyworm threat, the President of the republic of Zambia has ordered the military to spray the worst affected areas with pesticides as he is concerned that if the outbreak of the worm is not controlled speedily, the crop yield for 2016/2017 may be affected, as reported by the BBC.
How can farmers control the spread of armyworms? Due to lack of chemicals, some farmers are using Washing Detergent Paste to kill the worms. However, the government has recommended the use of a Synthetic pesticide called Cypermethrin which is very effective. Small scale farmers who cannot afford to buy the pesticide can simply dig a trench around their plantation so that armyworms do not cross over and destroy their crops.