Fall armyworm ravages maize crops in Sunninghill, leaving residents struggling

By Ndumiso Tshuma

A devastating pest of  fall armyworms has destroyed residents’ maize crops in Sunninghill Suburb in Bulawayo amid the ongoing nationwide drought. 

Fall army worms are pests that can damage and destroy a wide variety of crops and if not controlled could cause large economic damages to farmers and households

More than six Sunninghill families had planted maize in anticipation of the rains but most of their crops have been dying as a result of water shortages.

The remaining crops are ‘struggling to survive’ because the army worms are eating them, raising concern among residents who have to buy insecticides that cost US$5 at most pharmacies for about 100 millilitres.

In an interview with CITE, Paul Sithole, a resident of Sunninghill stated his household solely depended on his crops for food but these were ruined due to the fall armyworms.

“My crops are dying due to these worms as they have destroyed the majority of my maize crops making it harder for me to feed my family of four, that is my wife and my three children. As a family we depend on these crops for survival as I have no other source of income,” Sithole said, adding that he sells most of his produce locally in the neighbourhood.

Sithole said the fall army worm that was eating his crops worsened the state of drought and lack of water.

“This has made it harder for me to bring out good produce to sell,” he said.

Another local farmer and resident of Sunnighill, Lovemore Moyo, described how the fall armyworm could finish a whole cob of maize in a matter of two days or less.

“Some of my crops have been eaten by the fall armyworm and those that remained are wilting fast due to lack of adequate water. I do have a borehole but without the rains I fear it will also dry up very soon. I have had to reduce the watering of my plants so as of late, I water them first thing in the morning and in the evening around 6pm but come next morning the crops would have wilted,” Moyo said.

A small enterprise informal trader in Sunninghill, Sibusiso Nkiwane, revealed he had given up on planting and growing maize crops because they were affected by army worms which ate the majority of his yield.

“At first I used to grow my own crops at my residence and sell them at the market but due to the drought and water crisis the majority of my crops have been eaten by worms or have totally wilted,” Nkiwane said.

The resident said since he cannot grow his own produce, he is now forced to buy vegetables from other informal vendors or at the market to resell them.

“There’s nothing I can do.The medicine for the worms which I usually buy is called Acelepryn insecticide and costs US$5 at most pharmacies. That is expensive for me to  keep on buying as I don’t have enough money for it all the time,” Nkiwane said.

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