Sunday, March 18, 2018

Armyworms threaten food security: officials


By Bertha Ismail @TheCitizenTz

Arusha. Armyworms and pernicious weeds are threatening crops in Arusha.

It is feared that they will cause a food shortage.

Fall armyworms (FAW), Parthenium hysterophorus weed and a maize wilting disease are causing a serious concern in the region.

According to regional administrative secretary Richard Kwitega, the maize wilting disease is wreaking havoc with farming in Arusha, Arumeru, Monduli and Karatu districts.

Maize is the staple food in Arusha, which is also one of the leading producers of cereal when rains are favourable.

Of 582,958 tonnes of food consumed in the region, 70 per cent of them are maize.

Authorities say they are aware of the dangers posed by the pests and diseases for food crop production and have mobilised extension officers to assist farmers.

FAW are the major concern. The armyworms, which were detected last year, are voracious. Known scientifically as Spodoptera frugiperda, they can wipe out 80-100 per cent of the cereal fields planted with maize, sorghum or barley if not contained.