There is need for the Government to come up with a policy framework compelling seed houses to treat their seeds before placing them on the market as part of measures to control army worm which has wreaked havoc on the maize crop in Sub-Saharan Africa, an official has said.
This was said by one of the leading seed manufacturing company, Sygenta representative, Mr Moses Kudanga while addressing farmers during the Gweru Agricultural Show.
He said the fall armyworm posed a threat to national food security, especially maize which is the country’s staple food.
“We want to encourage the Government to ensure that all seed houses treat their seed as the first step of preventing the initial damage that the fall army worm can cause,” he said.
“All maize seed should be treated with Fortenza Duo (FD), a seed treatment chemical. It will have an effect of protecting the crop against fall armyworm during its early stages. The chemical remains in the plant system for the first four weeks after germination, so you won’t need to spray against the fall army worm during that period.”
Mr Kudanga said farmers who use treated seeds stood a better chance of realising higher yields.
He said the fall armyworm is an invasive specie in the order of the Lepidoptera pest, common in most of sub-Saharan Africa since 2016.
The worm, which attacks mainly corn, was first discovered in Brazil.
Experts suspect that it moved to Africa when the continent imported corn from the United States in response to drought.
During the 2018-2019 season about 15 percent of the total national maize crop translating to 148 489 hectares out of the total national maize hectarage of 975 913 was destroyed by the worm.
Last year an Irish humanitarian agency, GOAL partnered with The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre to also scale up the fight against the worm in Zimbabwe.
The partnership is working towards identifying conditions that promote the worm’s infestation.