Farmers face a bleak future as the Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed the outbreak of an African Army Worm that destroys both crops and range grasses.Pharoah Mosupi, Director of Crop Production said in an interview on Wednesday that this is a serious outbreak that made them take immediate action. “The worm can cause extensive damage to crops if left unattended, thus seriously affecting crop production in Botswana,” he explained.
The areas that the worm was detected in are Mmopane, Gakatla, (Kweneng South), Gweta in Central District and Makalamabedi, Shorobe, Shashe, Maun,Matlapana,Chanoga and Gumare. He said they are mobilising resources to control the spread of the outbreak of the worm with teams already in some of the mentioned areas. Mosupi indicated that the outbreak is not the first. “The last time the country experienced it was in 1991 in Tutume sub district and the impact was minimal,” he said.
He said the African army worm belongs to a family of moth and is not a butterfly. “It is green in colour at an early stage of development but later changes to black with a white lining on the sides and an inverted v-shape on the head,” Mosupi explained. The name “army worm” is derived from its habit of marching in large numbers from grassland into crops. “At length it is approximately 5 centimeters and we appeal to the public to report to their Agricultural Demonstrators (Balemisi) or the ministry at 17755,” he added.