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Armyworms Destroy Zimbabwean Crops, Pastures

Armyworm invades Zimbabwe
The Agricultural Research and Extension Services (AREX) and some communal farmers say almost all provinces have been invaded by an armyworm which is destroying hundreds of hectares of crops and green pastures.

AREX officials told VOA Studio 7 that the outbreak started a week ago in some parts of Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Midlands, Matabeleland North and Manicaland provinces.

Officials, who did not want to be named, said they are struggling to control the spread of the pest due to chemical shortages.

They are currently assessing the situation in most parts of the country and expected to submit a detailed report to the Ministry of Agriculture within the next few days.

Some farmers in Matabeleland North and Manicaland provinces, said they are failing to access chemicals from AREX and retail shops.

Gasten Shiri of Manicaland said the armyworm is spreading at an alarming rate. “The situation is critical in this province as we are not getting the necessary government support.”
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Communal farmer, Khabo Malinga, of Lupane District, Matabeleland North Province, said almost all farmers are planting maize for the second time following the destruction of crops that were planted at the end of November.

Land and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made was not immediately available for comment.

The pest, which can wreak havoc in fields if left to multiply, derives its name from its feeding habits. It eats everything in an area and once the food supply is exhausted, the entire “army” will move to the next available food source.