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worm outbreak threatens Zimbabwe's food security
January 15, 2013
An army worm
outbreak threatens to worsen food security in Zimbabwe, where close
to 1.6 million people already face food shortages ahead of the March
the Plant Protection Research Institute, the crop-eating caterpillar
could spread further as "moist winds blowing into Zimbabwe
from the north may bring more moths that will develop into army
worm and trigger fresh outbreaks of the pest."
who heads the institute and is the government's chief entomologist,
said the rapid spread of army worm moths has made it difficult to
contain the outbreak. "They originate in countries such as
Zambia, Uganda and even Tanzania and are blown into the country
when strong, moist winds bring rain. More rainfall brings more moths
and, ultimately, fresh outbreaks."
has so far hit five of the country's eight farming provinces.
It is reported to have destroyed hundreds of hectares of the staple
maize crop in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West and Manicaland,
the country's top food-producing provinces. Midlands and Matabeleland
North provinces have also been affected.
says the government has enough carbaryl, the chemical used to contain
the pest. But a senior official in the agricultural ministry, who
wishes to remain anonymous, says there is a shortage of the pesticide.
yield was already expected to be significantly reduced due to the
late onset of rains.
worm outbreaks were reported in December in Zambia, where they affected
nearly 60,000 farmers before being brought under control by spraying,
according to the International Red Locust Control Organization for
Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA). Smaller outbreaks have
also been reported in Botswana and Malawi.
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