SADC leaders meet to tackle armyworm invasion

Leaders are gathering over the fall armyworm and other pests to assess the damage and discuss emergency plans.

An armyworm. Picture:

JOHANNESBURG - As Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders meet over the fall armyworm and other pests, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (AO) says the aim of the gathering is to assess the damage and discuss emergency plans.

Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe were among the first countries to report the presence of the insect which eats away at staple crops such as maize, potatoes and sorghum.

Agriculture economists have warned that farmers are already under strain due to the drought and food security could be at further risk if this is not dealt with soon.

This week Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana visited farms in Limpopo believed to be affected by the armyworm to assess its impact and damage on crops.

Factfile on the African Armyworm, which is spreading in Africa and destroying many cereal crops.

The FAO, in partnership with the SADC and the International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa, organised an emergency regional meeting of key stakeholders from 14 to 16 February in Harare.

FAO crops officer Joyce Mitti says they’ll discuss emergency preparations for trans-border pest control.

“The meeting won’t only address the spread of the armyworm but all key crops and livestock.”

Mitti says leaders from Zimbabwe and Zambia will be expected to share the extent of damage caused by pests.

“They’ll share to see what they’ve learnt. This can help other countries experiencing the problems now to reduce the impact.”

The organisation says newly affected countries have not been able to give impact assessments because these are still ongoing and the season is not yet over.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)