Armyworm outbreak a headache for farmers

By Eliaser Ndeyanale

FARMERS in the north are seeking assistance from government to contain the outbreak of armyworms about two weeks ago, which have destroyed their crops. The outbreak has been reported in some parts of Omusati region such as Elim, Okahao, Tsandi, Ogongo and Onesi constituencies.

Omusati region recorded zero harvest last year and affected farmers fear they will not harvest anything this year if the worms are not destroyed. A farmer at Ongozi village in Okahao constituency told Confidente this week that the caterpillar population had attained alarming levels.

“Our crops have been destroyed. We are probably going to sow again the part of the field that they have destroyed, because as we speak now they ate everything,” the farmer said.

Okahao constituency councillor Leonard Shikulo confirmed the outbreak, saying it was also reported to the Ongandjera Traditional Authority about two weeks ago, but he said he was not sure of the severity of the problem at this moment as he was under the perception that the worms died after it rained. “I saw a few of them in my field but they were not severe. Farmers should report them to the councillor’s office,” he said.

According to farmers in Omusati region, the worms come in a combination of three types, green, black and hairy. “They are very serious… they have destroyed everything. I don’t know if we are going to harvest this year,” said Petrina Andreas, a mother of two from Iipanda village in Ogongo constituency.

Ogongo constituency councillor Wilhelm Iiyambo urged farmers to dig trenches so that the armyworms could fall in there and burn them. “It was reported to my office this week Monday by a resident of Opoliyanda. I am urging them to dig trenches, put a little bit of leaves and burn them. That is the only way they can control them for now.

“I am planning to go there and see the extent of destruction and see what we can do,” he said.

Elim constituency councillor Gerhard Shiimi also confirmed that there was an outbreak of army worms in his constituency. “It is a lot here, especially at Onashiku, Uukwanduudhi, Omukwa, Olwani and Etope. A lot of crops have been destroyed… and people need seeds in order for them to replace the crops that have been destroyed but we don’t have seeds at the constituency office,” he said, adding that the outbreak was reported to his office last week.

At the time of going to print, Confidente could not establish the severity of the destruction as Omusati regional governor Erginus Endjala, said he did not have more information. “Yes, I heard about the outbreak but at this point in time I can’t tell which part of the region has been affected. We have sent officials from the Ministry of Agriculture to go and observe so that they can give us a thorough report on severity and how we can treat it,” he said.

Oshikoto regional governor Henock Kankoshi said his office had not received reports of the outbreak.   “We have not received a report. If there are worms maybe they are not serious,” he said.

Oshana and Ohangwena governors Elia Irimari and Usko Nghaamwa could not be reached for comment.