Botswana News

Swarms of locusts damage small grain crops in Chiredzi and Mwenezi

The Herald

Sifelani Tsiko-Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor
Swarms of three indigenous locust species have damaged nearly 8 000 hectares of crops in Chiredzi and Mwenezi with small grain being the worst affected, a senior plant protection official said on Friday.

Shingirai Nyamutukwa, head of the Plant Protection Research Institute told the Herald that the outbreak of three indigenous locust species locust which do not spread over long distances unlike the African migratory locust – had damaged 3 – 92 percent of the crops, leaving scores of farmers at risk of food insecurity.

“Crop damage ranged from 3-92% depending on crop,” said Nyamutukwa. “Sorghum is the worst affected crop and it constituted the greater part of the affected 7853,2 hectares of crop land in Chiredzi and Mwenezi.”

Affected crops included sorghum, pearl millet, beans, maize, sugarcane and cowpeas

“Sugarcane damage was minimal at less than 5%. Sugarcane usually recovers quickly unlike damage on sorghum, millet and maize which is directly on the yield. Small grains are the most affected and if the pests are uncontrolled, more than 4 800 households will be food insecure in the two districts,” Nyamutukwa said.

The institute detected an outbreak of locust in the central, eastern and southern regions of Zimbabwe a week ago.

Last year, locust outbreaks in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia were controlled.

Heavy rains in the 2020 -2021 cropping season have created conducive conditions for swarms to breed in these countries forcing plant protection agencies to take steps to control any outbreaks.

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