By Hileni Nembwaya
THE northern regions have been hit by yet another outbreak of armyworm which threatens to worsen food security in the northern regions, where many people are already facing food shortages with many still reeling from the devastating spell of drought.
The armyworm outbreak, a major pest of maize, which is an integral staple food in the regions, as well as other cereals including sorghum and millet, has caused a considerable damage in Omusati region and some parts of Oshikoto region.
Last week, another outbreak of African armyworms attacking sweet potatoes hit farmers at Etunda irrigation scheme again in Omusati region, after the first outbreak in the region attacking maize was reported in January.
Andreas Kaanyena, a middle scale farmer at Etunda said that he planted his sweet potatoes, last week as his last hope after his maize field was completely destroyed by the armyworm infestation.
“I noticed the worms on Friday, last week. It only took two days for the worms to clear about 0.13 hectares of the sweet potatoes. The worms have eaten everything and my plantation has been destroyed,” lamented Kaanyena.
Some farmers at Uudhiya village in Oshikoto have also been hit by the pests that have destroyed many crop fields so far.
AGRIBUSDEV managing director, Petrus Uugwanga confirmed the outbreak saying that he has thus far notified the plant health unit within the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to conduct an inspection at Etunda green scheme.
“I was there and I have observed the whole situation. We have notified the ministry and we are just waiting for them to finalise their inspection and give us the outcomes,” said Uugwanga.
He said that the worms have so far destroyed half of a hectare.
Uugwanga therefore urged all farmers to be on the lookout adding that they should notify the relevant authorities of any outbreak.
Plantation at Etunda has in the meantime been stopped while investigations are underway.
Henock Kankoshi, the Governor of Oshikoto region said that so far nothing had been reported to his office.
“I am not aware of anything since nothing was reported to my office,” said Kankoshi.
The Governor of Omusati region, Erginus Endjala confirmed the outbreak without divulging more information on the matter.
“I was informally told this morning but I cannot tell you much because I do not have the right specifications of the worms,” he said.
Endjala noted that the levels of poverty and unemployment in the region are worrisome and hence it was high time to device appropriate mechanisms to mitigate them.
The statistics indicate that poverty levels in the region stand above 28,6 percent, compared to the poverty levels in the country that stand at 26,9 percent; an indication that both poverty and unemployment levels are above average.
Endjala said that he had high hopes for the green schemes projects in the region such as Etunda irrigation project; however his dreams had been shattered by the devastating outbreak of armyworm.
“I really had high hopes and many of the mahangu fields looked promising but now all seems to have gone down the drain. People have tried and many have responded to the call of operation Tulongeni, this will be a catastrophic year and it is really sad,” said Endjala.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015