KWEKWE: Quelea birds are threatening the wheat yield in Kwekwe and other parts of the Midlands province, with farmers now fearing for the worst if the situation is not quickly addressed.
The birds are targeting the type of crop which has reached the grain filling stage as well as the crop that has reached the maturity stage.
So intense are the birds that the community is kept on its feet, with others getting relish.
Midlands Provincial Agronomist, Innocent Dvuke gave an account of how the breakdown is affecting yield.
“I must say we had done very well as a country in terms of capacitating our farmers. The various schemes like the Presidential wheat scheme and the CBZ agro meant that we had breached the import gap. However, due to this outbreak, we might lose yield of up to 30 percent which is not good at all,” Dzvuke said.
Farmers have since appealed for an urgent government intervention before the situation gets out of hand.
“The birds are giving us sleepless nights. Valuable Labour is now concentrating on getting rid of the birds. We really appeal to the government to come on board and source such chemicals,” said Pritchard Zhou.
“I usually get 9 to 8 tonnes per hectare of wheat for my crop. After the invasion of these birds have revised downwards my anticipated yield to around 6 to 5 tonnes per hectare. It’s really painful and I believe this problem can be attended to without any challenges,” added Ranganai Zimowa.
Government however says it is already availing chemicals.
“We received 500 kgs of the chemical to deal with the problem as a district through the GMB which we have been distributing to farmers. However, this falls short of the district requirement which stands at 30 tonnes. The problem is we now require 29 500 kgs as a matter of urgency to avert further losses,” confirmed Kwekwe district crop and livestock officer, Virginia Samakomva.
The country was anticipating a bumper harvest this winter season after farmers almost doubled their yield as compared to the previous season. However, there are fears that all the efforts might go to waste if the problem of the birds is not addressed as a matter of urgency.