The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has warned of a possible outbreak of fall army worm in southern Africa during the 2017/18 crop season.
In an interview with Nampa recently, the ministry's permanent secretary, Percy Misika said with the good rainfall expected in the coming rainy season, chances of an army worm outbreak are high.
The fall army worm is the larval life stage of a fall army worm moth. It is a pest that can damage and destroy a wide variety of crops, causing large economic losses to farmers.
Misika said the outbreak will be a consequence of the insect's life cycle. Insects in the pupal stage in winter only start hatching once the weather conditions become more favourable.
"As part of preparation, the ministry is creating awareness of a possible fall army worm outbreak among crop farmers for them to take action on time," he said.
With support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, about 30 agricultural scientific officers and technicians from the ministry were trained in how to handle the fall army worm.
"The training focused on strengthening their capacity on pest diagnostics, monitoring, containment and pest damage symptoms and available management options," said Misika.
After the agricultural officers and technicians completed their training, they shared the knowledge with farmers in their respective regions.
The PS said the ministry received insect traps that use pheromones to lure insects from the FAO and these will be placed randomly in farmers' fields as a preventive measure.
"The traps will help farmers monitor the presence of mature moths in the field and this will serve as a warning system for them to walk through their fields at least once a week," said Misika.
He further said the ministry also procured limited pesticides to assist farmers, however, farmers are urged to procure pesticides from registered agro-chemical dealers across the country.