Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Govt steps up fight against crop pests

Govt steps up fight against crop pests


Obert Chifamba Manicaland Bureau Chief
EFFORTS are underway to strenghten surveillance mechanisms, management and control systems for emerging pests that can reduce crop yields drastically, a Government official has said.

In a speech read on behalf of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Chief Air Marshal (Rtd) Perrance Shiri by his deputy, Cde Davis Marapira, at a plant health awareness field day in the Nyanga potato quarantine area recently, Minister Shiri said crops were at risk from pests, pathogens, weeds and lack of nutrients.

Government officials, development partners, private sector representatives, farmers’ organisations and farmers attended the event while Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Monica Mutsvangwa was represented by director for provincial affairs in her office Mr Kennedy Mugarisanwa.

Minister Shiri said training programmes being conducted throughout the country had provided knowledge on pests’ behaviour and control methods.

“The country requires an integrated pest management strategy to control pests and disease outbreaks and to address issues of food security and nutrition,” he said.

“A key strategic factor in eliminating hunger and rural poverty must be the protection of plant health from biotic and abiotic stresses.

“Production of food crops is facing an increasing risk of a high incidence of pests, especially weeds, pathogens, insects and nematodes, and lack of nutrients.

“Pests can have a devastating effect on food security and the environment,” Chief Air Marshal (Rtd) Shiri  said.

He said the country was facing devastating outbreaks of new and old crop pests that were threatening agricultural productivity, food security and nutrition such as the fall armyworm, stalkborers and tomato leaf miners.

Minister Shiri also said the country was facing the threat of transboundary plant pests some of which had already been reported in Eastern and Southern African regions, which had prompted his ministry to capacitate plant health inspectors at points of entry and exit to ensure that agricultural products imported into the country were free from     diseases.

Transboundary pests are introduced into new environments mainly through the increased volumes of pests’ pathways of plant products, vehicles and vessels used in international trade as well as effects of climate change.

He urged farmers in the quarantine zone not to grow other crops besides potatoes and grasses such as Katambora Rhodes grass, which is needed for suppressing nematodes.

“Farmers in the quarantine area can only grow other crops with approval from the Plant Quarantine Services Institute. This approval is, however, usually not given, as most crops share common pathogens with potatoes,” Minister Shiri explained.

He said resuscitation of potato farming was high on President ED Mnangagwa’s agenda adding that the industry had grown rapidly between 1980 and the 1990s, which saw it contributing between 3,5 and 4,5 percent to the Gross Domestic Product.

Potato yields have also risen from less than 25 000 tonnes in 2000 to almost 500 000 tonnes in 2017.

“The nation is targeting to plant 20 000ha of potatoes annually in response to the increase in consumption of the tuber. It is estimated that one person consumes 30 kilogrammes of potatoes per year.

“Government hopes to address challenges potato farmers are facing, which include small landholdings (which is affecting rotations), lack of funding, limited adherence to bio-security measures and emerging pests. My ministry hopes to open up more land for the quarantine zone to accommodate more farmers,” he said.


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