07 Mar 2018 11:50am
WINDHOEK, 07 MAR (NAMPA) The armyworm invasion during the 2016/17 harvest season has resulted in a drop in maize output and subsequent loss of N.dollars 15.2 million in revenue at various state-owned green scheme projects.
This was revealed by Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) Alpheus !Naruseb in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The minister said maize output from the green schemes dropped from 17 829 metric tonnes (MT) recorded in 2015/16 to 14 437 MT in 2016/17.
The decrease is equivalent to 19 per cent, which in monetary terms is about N.dollars 15.2 million.
The invasion was more prominent at the Etunda and Musese green scheme irrigation projects in the Omusati and Kavango West regions, respectively.
At Etunda maize was suspended entirely and at Musese, the ministry was forced to replant almost the entire field of about 450 hectares due to damage by armyworms. Other green schemes also affected by the presence of armyworms include Shadikongoro, Shitemo, Ndonga Linena, Uvhungu Vhungu (all in Kavango East) and Sikondo (Kavango West).
!Naruseb said the armyworms are endemic and are thus here to stay.
Once this pest is introduced in an area or country, it becomes practically impossible to eradicate it, he said, adding that the remaining option for affected countries therefore is to develop a contingency plan to manage it.
To this effect, the MAWF plans to, among others, establish a national task force and early warning systems, procure pesticides and train farmers and technicians. To further mitigate the armyworm situation, crop rotation is advised.
The best intervention to address the armyworms at Etunda is to undertake an aerial spray with a helicopter which would cost the state anything in the region of N.dollars 1 million, he said.
In the same address, !Naruseb said in view of an imminent drought situation in 2018, Government should reserve N.dollars 72 million to purchase grain as drought relief food through its green schemes.
We strongly recommend for the Government to set aside funds estimated at N.dollars 72 million to buy-up the grain for the National Strategic Food Reserves (silos), said !Naruseb.
MAWF has projected a 16 091 MT grain harvest at all its green schemes for the 2017/18 season, and this will be sold to Government to mitigate the effects of drought.