Zimbabwe: Fears of Food Scarcity Grow as Bird Flocks Invade Farms

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Large flocks of the red-billed quelea bird, a notorious African plant pest, have drastically reduced grain harvests on farms in West Zimbabwe in recent weeks, causing local fears of food shortages in the near future, according to the online New Zimbabwe newspaper. reported Monday.

As the publication reported on May 16, “Farmers in the Umguza and Booby farmlands in the state of Matebeleland North are struggling to contain an outbreak of a large goose that feasts on their crops, particularly small grains.”

“As a result of the occupation, farmers say they now spend most of their time ringing metal objects and shouting loudly, desperate to save their crops. [sic]”According to the newspaper.

Umguza and Bubi are districts in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland Northern province located in Western Zimbabwe.

Lavenda Ndlovu, a farmer in the Booby region, told New Zimbabwe on May 16 that she feared an infestation of local quelea could lead to crop deficits.

“We are calling on the government to do something before the birds destroy more crops. Many farmers in this area were contracted last year by a local company to grow small grains. Now this epidemic will leave many farmers facing a crop shortage. [sic]’ said Ndlovu.

Quelea birds – known herd Thousands of people have been attacking grain harvests not only in North Matabeleland province but also in Zimbabwe in recent weeks, according to recent comments from Shingirai Nyamutukwa, head of the migrant pest safety department at Zimbabwe’s agriculture ministry.

New Zimbabwe recalled that on May 16, Nyamutukwa “said at a farmer’s winter wheat training workshop at Combe Farm in Zvimba that the problem had reached crisis levels.” Zvimba is a county in the Mashonaland Western Province of north-central Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s state-run Plant Protection and Research Institute (PPRI) I said On January 6, it reported that it had received an undisclosed number of reports of a “quelea infestation of early sown maize” from farmers in Zimbabwe, but particularly in the “Midlands” region of the country. [corn] crops.”

Shingirai Nyamutukwa, director of PPRI, told Zimbabwe: reporter His newspaper added that his department “purchases 7,410 liters of bird control chemicals” and “We normally buy 5,000 liters that last up to three seasons.”

During a previous quelea invasion in September 2021, reporter Nyamutukwa’s PPRI later on imported Chemical pesticides from Kenya and China to supplement Zimbabwe’s inadequate pesticide stores.

“As we intensified our efforts to control the marauding quelea birds that are destroying the country’s winter wheat crop, chemicals started trickling into the country from Kenya,” Nyamutukwa said at the time.

“We bought chemicals over the weekend and most of the chemicals are expected from today. We expect to receive about 1000 liters from Kenya and about 5000 liters from China. [sic]’ he explained.

Zimbabwe is a severely impoverished country that has struggled to combat growing crop plagues over the past few years.

“This year alone, Zimbabwe has recorded many major shocks and dangers. [due to] Covid 19 [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic, crop pests, food insecurity and animal diseases, “International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reported in November 2021.

“Estimated number of people in September 2021 [in Zimbabwe] increased by 100,000 from the estimated 5.6 million in August 2021 to approximately 5.7 million with insufficient food consumption [sic]” according to the charity.

“During the January-March 2022 lean season, around 27% of rural Zimbabweans will be food insecure. That equates to 2,942,897 people, who collectively require 262,856 tonnes of corn,” he estimated. “The country will likely face several emergencies, and this is due to the low coping capacities of the most vulnerable communities due to the economic challenges the country is currently facing. It will get worse too.”

Zimbabwe’s recent food shortages are remarkable because the nation has known As Africa’s breadbasket before the devastating rule of Robert Mugabe, who occupied the country’s office of prime minister from 1980 to 1987 and the office of the country’s president from 1987 to 2017. Mugabe’s nearly 40 years of rule over Zimbabwe’s government, extreme mismanagement and corruption. Beginning in 2000, the left-wing dictator introduced so-called land “reforms” that seriously damaged the country’s once thriving agricultural production.

“Beginning in 2000, thousands of white Zimbabwean farmers were forced from their lands by violent state-sponsored mobs or evacuated, with questionable legal jurisdiction, to help black people marginalized under so-called British colonial rule,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) said in a statement in July. ” 2018. “But farms often [then] President Robert Mugabe’s allies [with no knowledge of farming] devastated, leaving tens of thousands of rural workers unemployed and putting the economy in a stalemate as food production collapsed.”