Armyworm outbreaks which damaged crops in some parts of the country and Zambia in December and January threaten to spread to other neighbouring countries, including Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
A Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Regional DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) Update publishedon Tuesday says forecasts suggest possible spread of outbreak which poses a threat to food security in the region.
“Forecasts indicate that the outbreaks of armyworm affecting Zambia and Malawi will likely spread to neighbouring countries, including Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. High numbers of moths have been reported in some districts in the southern parts of Tanzania, including the Southern Highlands, and outbreaks are expected there in the coming weeks.
“Winds blowing from affected areas into neighbouring regions carry moths that develop into armyworm and trigger outbreaks of the pest. Trap operators, including community forecasters are advised to continue monitoring the situation closely and report trap catches to concerned authorities in time to facilitate a timely launch of control operations,” reads the report.
In Malawi, the pests have reportedly attacked maize and pasture on more than 1 700 hectares and caused mild to severe damage. Around 600 households were reportedly affected by the outbreak in Machinga, Zomba, Blantyre, Mangochi, Mulanje, Phalombe, Chiradzulu and Balaka.
Forecasts issued by the International Red Locust Control Organisation for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA) and USaid Emergency Trans-boundary Outbreak Pest (Etop) team suggested that the outbreak will continue in the country and will likely spread southwards to other districts.
The report shows that in Zambia, armyworm outbreaks were reported on 394 hectares in a number of districts in the Eastern Province which affected around 300 households during December.