Farmers in the Eastern Province have been called upon to cooperate with Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) in the ongoing exercise to spray pesticides to kill armyworm, a devastative pest to crops, especially maize and sorghum.
Since last month, RAB in Eastern Province with the help of local authorities and the Rwanda Defence Forces, have been spraying pesticides in the areas affected by armyworms after every five days.
The provincial governor, Judith Kazayire says the armyworm was first reported in the area last month in the area.
“Armyworm is everywhere in this province with Ngoma the latest district to be invaded and according to the technical support reach from RAB, the pest spreads rapidly,” Kazayire stated.
“We have, therefore, been sensitising our farmers to work closely with RAB and amongst themselves to contain armyworm.”
RAB has provided pesticides to all farmers, is involved in the spraying and makes follow-ups on the effectiveness of the pesticides.
Norbert Sendege, who heads RAB in Eastern Province, said since armyworm can spread fast, they have been working closely with farmers to monitor the situation and spray farmland.
“The pest is spread by butterflies. They lay 2000 eggs on maize leaves in a perimeter of two kilometres a day which makes armyworm a big threat when people don’t join hands to fight it,” said Sendege.
He mentioned a challenge in Nyagatare District, where farmers used to use ineffective pesticides which gave chance to the pest to spread.
Nyagatare District mayor Goerge Mupenzi said some farmers previously used a pesticide known as lava which they bought from neighbouring countries but has not been effective.
“That’s why RAB came up with effective pesticides and since we started using them, we are seeing positive results,” said Mupenzi.
RAB hopes to be done with spraying and eradication of the pest in the province in the next three weeks.
By then, they say, the cycle of armyworm reproduction will have stopped.
Armyworm is laid as eggs by armyworm butterflies. The eggs hatch into armyworm caterpillars that feed on cereal leaves and then turn into butterflies in 24-25 days cycle.
According to Sendege, armyworm has the potential to destroy 100 per cent of a field if no pesticide is used.
Daniel Mutangana, a farmer in Rwangingo marshland in Nyagatare District said the pesticides helped them a lot because other pesticides had failed.
The pest has so far been reported in 108 sectors countrywide (of the country’s 30 districts), ravaging where they had so far infected 15,699ha of maize and sorghum, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.