Natasha Chamba, Business Reporter
A CHINESE-owned global company that produces agrochemicals and seeds, Syngenta, through its local agent, Intaba Trading, is looking at introducing a new maize seed varaety in Zimbabwe treated with Fortzena Duo (FD) to help farmers curb the fall armyworm (FAW).
The initiative comes shortly after a study on the impact of the FAW was carried out in Manicaland, which revealed that if the armyworm spreads throughout the country, tonnes of grain valued at about $32 million could be lost. The FAW has wrecked havoc on the maize crop in Sub-Saharan Africa since its arrival in Africa in 2016 and resultantly worsened the food security position on the continent.
The FAW is an invasive species in the order of the Lepidoptera pest, established in most of sub-Saharan Africa since 2016.
Intaba Trading operations and sales manager, Mr Talk Chinoda, said the introduction of the FD seed would protect maize crop against FAW in its early stages.
“We shall introduce maize seed treated with FD. So FD is a seed treatment chemical, which is used when treating seed. It will have an effect of protecting the crop against fall armyworm during its early stages. It remains in the plant system for the first four weeks after germination, so you won’t need to spray against FAW during that period,” he said.
Mr Chinoda said the seed was undergoing necessary regulatory approvals before it was released on the market. The seed has been introduced in countries such as Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, China, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay and Turkey.
Meanwhile, an Irish humanitarian agency, GOAL has partnered with The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) to also scale up the fight against the FAW in Zimbabwe.
The partnership is working towards identifying conditions that promote FAW infestation in order to educate farmers on the best practices to fight the pest.