The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has advised farmers in the 10 crop growing regions to be on the look-out for a new invasive species of crop pest and diseases.
In a media statement last week, the ministry said crop pests and diseases such as Armoured Ground Cricket, African Migratory Locust, Fall Army Worm, Tomato Leaf miners, Fruit Fly and African Army Worm are likely to be reported in crop producing regions.
The regions likely to be affected are Kavango East, Kavango West, Zambezi, Kunene North, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke, where crop farming takes place.
The mnistry said as crop production increasingly comes under threat due to plant pests and diseases, there is a need to apply pest and disease control measures annually.
Farmers have been advised to visit their crop fields on a regular basis to conduct surveillance for early crop pest and disease detection.
The best way to control both pests and diseases is to keep plants healthy.
“Once they detect some crop pest, farmers are recommended to apply different control methods such as picking, destroying pests and applying sand to suffocate the pests,” the statement reads.
How to avoid pests and diseases in crops
Plant at the right times. Pests and diseases often respond to the weather, such as the first rains or the first warm day. Watching how each crop grows and talking with other farmers about these patterns can help you decide the best time to plant.
Planting earlier than usual can make sure crops are big enough to resist pests or diseases that come at a certain time. Planting later can cause most of the pests or diseases to die out for lack of food.
Plant a variety of crops and change crop patterns. Large areas with only one kind of plant attract pests who like that plant.
Water from below. Watering from above can cause diseases that live in soil to splash onto plants. And wet leaves and stems are good places for diseases to grow. Using drip irrigation or flood irrigation can keep plant leaves and stems healthy.
Examine your crops regularly. This will help you understand when to allow friendly insects to do their work, and when you might need to spray with natural pesticides or use other pest control methods. When you look for pests and diseases, ask questions such as: Are pieces of the plant being eaten by an insect? Is damage increasing? Will it affect the crop yield? Are friendly insects keeping pests under control? Is it a pest, a friend, or harmless?
Watch the insects in your fields to know if they are pests, friends, or harmless. If you are unsure about some insects, collect them in a container together with some plant parts, and watch them for several days. If you find insect eggs, watch what they hatch. If tiny worms or grubs (larva) are released, they may be pests. If they release flying insects, they are often friendly.
The main ways pests damage crops are by sucking the liquid from them and by eating them.
Sap-suckers include aphids, scale insects and mealybugs, leaf and plant hoppers, white flies, thrips, mites, and nematodes.
Plant-eating insects include caterpillars, slugs, snails, plant and pod borers.
-additional information sourced from hesperian.org