The Tanzanian government has reported an invasion of a dangerous crop killer worms that have since destroyed some farms around the country.
Announcing the presence of pests known as Fall Army Worm or Maize Leaf worm and measures to contain them, the Minister for Agriculture, Dr Charles Tizeba said here at the weekend that all the regions, in particular the Lake Zone, should take immediate measures to eradicate the vermin.
He cited the areas already affected as Kakonko district in Kigoma region and Biharamulo and Muleba districts in Kagera region as well as others in Mwanza region. “This worm is reported to originate from Southern Africa … particularly Zambia and is well known for its attacks on beans, maize and even cotton. I urge all the regions to take measures as soon as possible,” he said.
The minister said he had directed the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) to supply pesticides to deal with the worm infestation, adding there were at least five different types of the pesticides at the Institute that could destroy them if timely and properly administered.
If not killed properly, the minister warns that the worms could destroy crops from one region to another, as they move from farm to farm, and that farmers in Mwanza region had suffered huge losses. Crop losses within Mwanza region have since been confirmed by the Regional Agricultural Officer, Mr Innocent Keya who told the Daily News yesterday that at least 7,500 acres of maize had been destroyed by last week.
“Yes the worms are here with us but the only solution to this problem is for the farmers to keep close eye to their farms, apply crop rotation and use recommended pesticides in case of attacks by the deadly worms,” he said.
The Mwanza Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr John Mongela told the Regional Consultative Council (RCC) that met at the weekend that all responsible agricultural officers should be on alert and collaborate with respective district commissioners to contain the problem before it goes uncontrollable. He directed for a special operation to take off effective January 2 next year to make sure the worms don’t find free routes to other unaffected farms.
In another development, Mr Mongela has directed all officers in the region to reschedule their annual leave set for January to make sure all form one students posted in different schools are admitted accordingly. He made the directive amid reports from the Education department presented at the RCC meeting indicating the region was still facing shortage of desks, classrooms and hostels.