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Armyworm invasion won't cause mass hunger in Rwanda

Staff Writer |
Rwandan minister of agriculture and animal resources Geraldine Mukeshimana has announced that the outbreak of armyworm caterpillar that destroys maize plantations won't have a negative impact on the Rwanda food security.

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She told reporters on Saturday that Rwanda has stepped up efforts towards putting an end to the ravaging fall army worms which have the capacity to destroy maize plantations on a large scale.

"The armyworms will not seriously impact food security because maize was not cultivated on large scale during season 2017B," said Mukeshimana.

Mukeshimana added that 95 percent of the total cultivated land during the second quarter of 2017 is covered by other crops, which will sustain food security.

The crops include beans, Irish potatoes, banana, rice, wheat, soybeans, and cassava that have been prioritized under the Crop Intensification Program. Other subsistence crops, such as sweet potatoes, have also been grown during this season.

The caterpillars are well known for their ability to destroy massive amounts of crops on large scale especially maize plantations.

They are called army worms mainly because they march in big numbers over an area, feeding on vegetation in large masses and moving to the next vegetation to continue feeding.

According to the ministry of agriculture the armyworm invasion has so far ravaged an estimated 15,699 hectares of farmland (a quarter of the country's total area of 63,499 hectares planted with maize).

This represents about 5 percent of the total cultivated land countrywide this season.

Mukeshimana said the government intensified efforts to fight armyworms after the pest was reported in some Southern African countries and the outbreak is under control.

The ministry of agriculture has since initiated radio talk shows to raise awareness about the pest, and massive training of farmers, agronomists and local leaders at the district and sector levels have taken place.

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