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Six provinces have confirmed that armyworms are beginning to wreak havoc among their agricultural sector. The crop-eating pests have recently spread to South Africa from some of the neighbouring countries.

A delegation from the Department of Agriculture led by Minister Senzeni Zokwana briefed Parliament’s Oversight Committee on their plans to combat the spread of the fall armyworm.

AGRI NK - ArmywormThe destructive fall armyworm is a new phenomenon to South African farmers. It targets crops such as maize, sorghum, cotton, soybean and sugar cane as hosts and because it is new, no pesticide has been registered to use against it.

The Department’s Director responsible for Plant Health, Jan Hendrik Venter, says they have now managed to register nine active ingredients.

“We are proud to say we have registered nine active ingredients. We must also note a huge backlog because of all the farmers that will need it from the manufacturers.”

He says six provinces have now confirmed the prevalence of the worm. 

“It has been confirmed in Limpopo, Musina; also Gauteng the north and eastern parts; in North West, Rustenburg; Mpumalanga in Schoemanskloof, Hendrina, and Middelburg; Free State in Petrus Steyn, and Northern Cape in Douglas.”

Minister Senzeni Zokwana says he will meet with Treasury soon, to request for additional funding to combat the spread of the armyworm

AGRI NK - ArmywormThe department says it could cost up to R1000 per hectare to apply the pesticide.

However, the Acting Deputy Director, Mooketsa Ramasodi, says it is still unclear how the pest will affect food prices.

“We still have to see the extent, because you have the impact on your operations and it will reflect in your costs that are there, but the extent of that still needs to be determined.”

Agri Northern Cape

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