#REUTERS. | Armyworm decimates fields in eastern Congo

Kahindo Tumaini, a mother and farmer in Rutshuru territory, explains that this caterpillar has been causing damage in her fields for some time and is often very dangerous during the drought period. She maintains that since the appearance of this devastating insect, her agricultural production has decreased.

“When we cultivate maize and the caterpillar enters it, in a field where we could harvest 10 bags, we only harvest four. This is how we see that the caterpillar brings us the famine in the region. It often attacks our seedlings in times of drought.”says Ms. Tumanini.

Kahindo Kitumaini is not the only person working in the agricultural sector to complain. Djimy Miruho, a young farmer from Bweza, Rutshuru territory, suggests that he is also a victim of this caterpillar. He assures that because of this insect, his agricultural activities are no longer productive.

“Insects have become numerous and famine is ensuing. I would like the authorities to help us to stabilize the situation as in the good old days, because in any case, famine seriously threatens us”he is alarmed.

Climate change blamed

Coordinator of the Network of Agricultural Engineers for Agriculture in Kivu, a structure that works mainly in the territory of Rutshuru in the province of North Kivu, the agricultural engineer Jadot Mateso confirms the existence of this insect. According to him, it is an armyworm of American origin whose presence in the region would be favored by climate change.

“Some studies we have already done show that the caterpillar in question is the Spodoptera Frugiperda, which is the scientific name of the caterpillar. It is an army worm which could come from the American region. It’s a caterpillar that always appears during the dry season”he explains.

Needs for new varieties

Beyond the recommendations he makes to the population to combat the invasion of this butterfly larva, Mr. Mateso recommends that the Congolese State find ways and means to provide the agricultural population of Rutshuru and other territories new varieties of maize seeds capable of resisting this armyworm which devastates vast expanses of fields in the territory.

“It is an alert that we are issuing to the authorities so that there is research because there are agronomic research centers, there must be new varieties, varieties that can resist the attack, varieties that can, can’t they, improve production in the area which is the territory of Rutshuru”he suggests.

Apart from maize, the armyworm also attacks sorghum and rice.

Source: Reuters-VOA.

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