Zokwani: Armyworm not a threat to SA's food security

Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana says an emergency pest response plan has been initiated and he’s confident it will be effective.

An armyworm. Picture: Pixabay.com

PRETORIA - While Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana has confirmed the presence of the fall armyworm in Limpopo, he says food security is not under threat and he’s confident the spread of the pest will be contained.

The minister has addressed a briefing in Pretoria where he says the worm has been positively identified in Limpopo.

The pest, which is native to South and North America, was first picked up in Africa in January last year, but has spread to several countries including Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique.

Minister Zokwana says an emergency pest response plan has been initiated and he’s confident it will be effective.

“Once we begin on making sure that we control its spread by sprays or whatever form we use; we will be able to deal with it. I do believe we have the ability to contain it.”

The Agricultural Research Council’s Roger Price says the key to tackling the pest is understanding it’s biology in local conditions.

"We know about the biology from overseas but we know very little about it under southern African conditions, which we’ve got to do a lot of work on."

The department says it has already identified a pesticide to use against the worm.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)