Mystery worm wipes out Kapiri farmer’s maize crop

Tue, 20 Dec 2016 13:14:51 +0000


By Wilson Pondamali

AN unknown disease but suspected to be maize stem weevils has damaged close to 24 hectares of newly grown maize in Kapiri Mposhi district and Government has responded by undertaking scientific tests to establish the magnitude of the problem.

The matter was discovered by some farmers in Waya and Lukanga farming blocs who reported the strange disease to the provincial agricultural office in Kabwe and the National Agriculture Information Service (NAIS).

An entomologist based at the Agricultural Research Station, Codrine Malambo, confirmed the development to the Daily Nation in Kabwe but said that scientific tests were yet to be done to ascertain the real problem.

“We went to some place near Lukanga swamps where a farmer who had cultivated 24 hectares of maize had almost 90 percent of his crop lost. We discovered some sort of maggots under the roots of the crops and we suspect maize stem weevils but scientific tests are yet to be done and ascertain the real cause,” said Mr. Malambo.

Other farmers from nearby farms also complained that their farms had been attacked by the unknown maize parasite and recommended that pesticides such as Imidargold or Chlorobarn be added to the soil if there was going to be a replant.

Mr. Malambo said that at the moment, the levels of the problems have not yet been assessed but that the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) had been communicated to.

And speaking in an interview, the affected farmers appealed for Government intervention if crop failure is to be averted.

They complained that they have already lost money in form of labour and seed and appealed for assistance from DMMU.

They said that the pesticides being recommended cost a lot of money and as ordinary farmers they may not be able to buy the chemicals.

They however thanked Government for quick intervention by sending agricultural officers to the area who took samples and made recommendations.

“This must be treated as a disaster.  Our colleague has lost more than 23 hectares and many more others are affected; so we may all have to replant to avoid food shortages. The Government must come to our aid by providing seed and chemicals because failure to this, there is going to be hunger among households here,” said one farmer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In 2014 most parts of Central Province were affected by an outbreak of army worms which caused extensive damage to crops, thereby leading to poor crop harvest.

The worms were partly attributed to the high temperatures which accompanied the rainy season.


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