FARMERS here who took advantage of the early rains to plant maize are crying foul after their summer crop was attacked by fall armyworm.
A survey carried out by The Herald this week showed that the most of the crops were in Clearwater, Southdown and Mabheka on the upper side of the district.
The farmers said they were fighting a losing battle in their efforts to eradicate the pest which has been resistant to the pesticides recommended by experts.
A local farmer, Mrs Evelyn Makwambeni, said they were incurring heavy costs since prices of pesticides had gone up.
She said if the invasion was not contained soon, it would become a threat to food security in the district and the nation at large.
“Most affected farmers embarked on dry planting because rains came late but sadly the crops are now being attacked soon after geminating. Controlling the pests is labour intensive and costly. We are using pesticides which were recommended by Agritex officials but the pest is now resisting them. We are spraying twice a week but nothing has changed,” she said.
Another farmer, Mr Allen Dube, said the menace of fall armyworm had become a perennial headache for farmers in Chipinge.
“The invasion of fall armyworm is now a problem every season and we appeal to Government and other stakeholders to assist us especially small-scale farmers with limited resources. The cost of buying chemicals is exorbitant and if this problem continues we will not have enough food to sustain ourselves,” he said.
Chipinge Agritex extension officer Mr Tapiwa Chagwesha confirmed that the department had received reports of suspected cases of fall armyworm in the district.
“We are still investigating the pest which is destroying maize. We are also investigating why the pest has become resistant to the pesticides they are administering. We, however, urge farmers to continue following instructions given to them by our extension officers who are on the ground,” said Mr Chagwesha.