Liberty Mupanedemo – Midlands Office
A flock of quéléa birds invaded Kwekwe district, prompting wheat farmers to send an SOS to the government for chemicals to minimize losses.
Kwekwe is one of the largest wheat producing districts in the country and is home to President Mnangagwa’s family farm.
The herd has invaded the farms around the Sherwood Block, including the President’s Precabe Farm.
Also threatening are the swarms of birds that some farmers have hired part-time workers to chase them away. But the most effective control is the destruction of huge herds at night in their staging area.
The quele finch is a small bird of the weaving family that naturally eats grass seeds. But nicknamed the plumed locust, it can form huge flocks, with millions of birds in a single flock.
Since the advent of winter wheat cultivation, wheat can allow herds to survive and grow during the winter season.
Midlands provincial agronomist Mr. Innocent Dvuke recently told the Herald that the birds are targeting the wheat crop both at the grain filling and maturity stage.
“We have been very successful this time around in terms of capacity building for our farmers. The various programs such as the presidential wheat program and the CBZ Agro-Yield program have filled the import deficit.
“However, due to this epidemic, we could lose our yield by up to 30%, which is not good.”
One of the affected farmers, Mr. Pritchard Zhou, said birds were wreaking havoc in the area.
“The birds are giving us sleepless nights. Valuable work is now focused on eliminating these birds. We really call on the government to join us and help us with the chemicals,” he said.
Mr Ranganai Zimowa said the birds had significantly affected his performance.
“I usually get eight to nine tonnes per hectare of wheat for my crop, but because birds have ravaged my field, I now expect a low yield,” he said, adding that he was failing. not to raise funds to buy the necessary chemicals.
District Crop and Livestock Officer Virginia Samakomva said the district had received 500 kg of chemicals to be used in bird control.
“We have received these chemicals through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). However, this is well below the district’s requirement of 30 tonnes. So we urgently need 29,500 kg for avoid further losses, ”she said. noted
Ms Samakomva said that the expected yield in the district has been affected.
“We had forecast a bumper harvest this winter after farmers almost doubled their yield from the previous season. However, there is concern that all efforts will be in vain if the bird problem is not urgently addressed, ”she said.
Information, Advertising and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said last week that the early-sown wheat harvest was now in the early stages in most provinces.
Bird repellents have since been purchased to provide effective quélea bird control in some provinces.
“The government has started nationwide identification of quéléa bird roosting sites,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
Farmers have been urged to help by providing monitoring information at resting places and to collect bird repellents from their nearest GMB depots to protect their crops.