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SA registering pesticides for use against maize-attacking armyworms

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THABAZIMBI – South Africa’s agriculture ministry is registering pesticides for replacements with the fall armyworm when tests what is presence of the Central American pest from the country’s maize belt, a spokesperson said on Thursday.

Countries with confirmed outbreaks can face import bans on agricultural products because armyworm is classified for a quarantine pest. The pest can cause extensive trouble for crops and has now a preference for maize, the regional staple.

South African authorities expect to create a positive identification within days.

The utilization of pesticides on commercial crops in Africa is strictly regulated and legal clarity around what chemicals to work with shall be expected to fight any armyworm outbreak.

“We don’t have got registered pesticides to the fall armyworm because we now have didn’t have it here before. I am busy with all the registration process now,” Bomikazi Molapo, the spokeswoman within the agriculture ministry, told Reuters.

Industry sources have raised concerns about the fact that no pesticides for fall armyworm are registered in Nigeria.

A larvae outbreak that has damaged maize in South Africa’s Limpopo and North West provinces is “strongly suspected” to become the invasive armyworm that’s attacked crops in neighbouring countries, a scientist said on Monday.

The infestation of fall armyworms – an invasive Central American species which is harder to detect and eradicate than its African counterpart – has erupted in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi and follows a crippling El Nino-triggered drought which scorched a lot of this particular region not too long ago.

Damage in Nigeria has so far been mainly on white maize planted for seed production. Industry group Grain SA said within a note for their members on Thursday that they can should only apply pesticides with their crop after consulting representatives of chemical companies.

A drive-thru areas of the maize growing area in Limpopo with a Reuters journalist today revealed that many of the crop there is planted early and is also almost ready for harvesting, so would not be affected.

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