by DANAI MWARUMBA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE United States (US) is partnering thousands of Zimbabwean farmers to tackle the fall armyworm in the drought-prone Southern African country.
Partnerships come amid projections the pest could cause extensive maize yield losses, estimated between $76 million (about R912 million) and $191 million (R2.293 billion) in Zimbabwe if proper control measures are not implemented.
Stephanie Funk, US Agency for International Development (USAID), said the country was partnering with 350 000 Zimbabwean farmers and other local experts to stop the spread of the dangerous pest.
“This is an important part of USAID’s ongoing efforts to improve food security in Zimbabwe by strengthening the resilience and productivity of small-scale farmers,” Funk said.
USAID is also working with International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, Food and Agriculture Organization and a University of Zimbabwe entomologist to bring stakeholders together from all relevant sectors to share information and create a platform for continued open dialogue to tackle the fall armyworm.
In 2016, an invasive crop pest was first confirmed in Africa.
Native to the Americas, fall armyworm can feed on 80 different crop species, including maize, a staple food consumed by over 300 million African smallholder farm families.
The crop pest has since been found in over 30 African countries, including Zimbabwe, posing a significant threat to food security, income, and livelihoods.
– CAJ News