Why have we been caught off-guard by armyworms?

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Rwanda Defence Forces and Rwanda National Police have joined the fight against Fall Army Worms to protect farmers across the country. (File)

Editor,

RE:Joint bid to save farmers from crop ravaging armyworms” (The New Times, April 19).

This information is totally discouraging! Fall armyworms were reported in South Africa in December/January 2017 and in February it was quite the news in southern Africa. How can the ministry report good progress in harvesting season when 80 per cent of the country is infected with the worms?

My view is that there has not been adequate monitoring and alert systems within this ministry. If this was reported in January/February in South Africa, Rwanda had at least 3 months to prepare and move fast against the worms.

From the pictures on the article it seems the crop is in advanced stages of devastation.

Much like the Ministry of Health has a disease warning system, e.g. Ebola, Minagri should also have an efficient early warning system considering that Rwanda is principally an agriculture nation.

I now hope that Midimar (Minsitry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Repatriation) and Minagri are now putting in place food security mitigation measures because, in my view, a famine of big proportions could be looming.

MG

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Minagri/Rwanda Agriculture Board need to use pro-active approach which involves providing enough awareness to farmers so that they can easily detect the pest at its early stages. This is because it appears that the pest has proved to be too resistant to the available chemicals. Also, there is need to assess the type of seeds at risk by examining the previous seasons before the outbreak of the FAW.

Emmanuel Mulisa