The Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI) under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement is in the process of training extension officers countrywide on identification and control of the fall armyworm to reduce damage caused by the pest.
The fall armyworm wrecked havoc since last year and has spread to all parts of the country.
According to the department of the PPRI, there are other pests besides the fall armyworm that are also causing damage to crops, especially maize, but farmers are failing to differentiate the damage caused by the fall armyworm to that caused by other common pests.
PPRI official Mr Shingirayi Nyamutukwa confirmed that the fall armyworm had spread to all parts of the country, but said farmers should be wary of other pests that have the potential to cause extensive damage to crops if not controlled on time.
“We are training extension officers on the fall armyworm so that they can be able to identify the pest, know its life cycle and best control measures,” he said.
“It is worrying that some farmers are not aware of the fall armyworm and now attribute any damage caused to their crops to the fall armyworm. Wrong identification of the pest will lead to wrong control measures,” he said.
Mr Nyamutukwa said the department had chemicals in stock and teams were also on the ground monitoring the situation.
The best control method, he said, was for farmers to fight the pest before it fully matured.
“The trained extension officers will also teach farmers on the pests and control measures,” he said.
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Davis Marapira urged farmers to always be on the lookout for pests.
He urged them to manage the fall armyworm when it is in its early stage.
“Farmers should seek advice from extension officers,” said Deputy Minister Marapira.
“They should not use any chemical they come across as this may lead to a build-up of resistance of the pest and they may also destroy their crops in the process.”