Pests threaten harvests

25 March 2020 | Agriculture



Despite having received good rains, farmers are worried about their harvests because of outbreaks of pests and plant diseases in some parts of the country.

The ministry of agriculture said it is aware of the situation.

Subsistence farmers in the central north are calling on the government to consider mass pest control to save their crops from caterpillars, locusts and birds.

Eufemia Kondjeni, a mahangu and maize farmer at Epembe in the Ohangwena Region, said they were thankful for the rain and hoped for a bumper harvest, but their crops are being attacked by insects and birds.

She said it is difficult to control the pests because they attack entire mahangu fields.

“This year started off so well for us with good rainfall and we decided to put in extra energy to cultivate our mahangu fields to maximise our harvests. Crops were looking good and getting ready for harvest but all of a sudden they were attacked by pests and birds,” Kondjeni said.

“As it looks, this might be another year of disaster. We might not get any harvest unless we are assisted with pesticides to control them. We can't do anything ourselves because they are attacking the entire fields.”

Kondjeni said people with larger fields of more than 20 hectares find it impossible to fight off the pests.

Early birds

Gideon Kashimbode, a mahangu farmer at Omauni, said his crops are ripening and getting ready for harvest but birds are getting to the grain first. He said methods they are trying to chase away the birds seem to be ineffective.

“The birds get into the field as early as possible and by the time we wake up, they are already in the fields feeding themselves. We tried many methods to scare them away, but we failed. We cannot kill them otherwise we will get in trouble with nature conservation,” Kashimbode said.

Agriculture ministry executive director Percy Misika said the ministry was aware of the situation farmers are in, but he could not say whether the ministry could help them.

“Farmers are experiencing outbreaks of plant pests and diseases after a prolonged dry spell across the country. Upon receiving good rainfall, it prompted the emergence of many different pests of economic importance,” Misika said.

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