Zimbabwe’s maize crops could be “completely wiped out” following an outbreak of armyworms in the southern African country, reports say.
According to Daily News, the outbreak began in the Matabeleland North province before spreading into neighbouring areas and threatening villages across the country.
Maize is Zimbabwe’s staple crop and if the government fails to contain the outbreak, the country could be pushed further into food insecurity.
“If not controlled properly, there can be re-infestation and the fall army worms may go on to attack the cob. The pest should be sprayed when it is young,” entomologist Godfrey Chikwenhere was quoted as saying by the state-controlled Herald newspaper.
The government has already started distributing pesticides to the affected provinces, in an effort to curb the outbreak, the report said.
Zimbabwe is already suffering from a food shortage because of drought.
The United Nations indicated recently that at least 4.5 million people – half of Zimbabwe’s drought-stricken rural population – will need aid by next March.
Last month, neighbouring Zambia ordered the national air force into action to fight the armyworms.
The country’s ministry of agriculture said at the time that the pests had damaged crops in four of the country’s 10 provinces.
The pests are called army worms because they eat most vegetation in their way and can destroy entire fields.