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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 18:27 GMT
Army worms ravage Tanzania crops
Army-worms
Farmers cannot afford pesticide to control the pests
Army-worms have devoured about 30,000 acres of crops and pasture in the northern regions of Tanzania, raising fears of food shortages.

Farmers in the Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions have lost their maize to the pests which are spreading swiftly with the help of strong winds.

The worms invaded the area last month but efforts to exterminate the army worms have been hampered by a lack of pesticides.

Plans to plant beans, one of the major food and commercial crops in the regions, have been put on hold for fear that the plants will be devoured by the army worms.

Desperate farmers are doing anything they can think of to fight the pests, including covering their plants in ash to deter the worms from landing on them.

'Bush-fire'

A resident of Moshi rural in Kilimanjaro region, Alloyce Lyimo was quoted by Tanzania's Guardian newspaper as saying that all of his three hectares of maize plants have been destroyed.

"Our major problem is that the wind is still blowing and the army-worms are spreading like bush-fire to other areas," he said.

The Department of Agriculture in the regions has been blamed for failing to control the pests despite being advised of the invasion of the destructive army worms.

Farming experts have been despatched to the affected areas and neighbouring villages to assess the extent of the damage.

See also:

07 Feb 02 | Africa
Tanzania fights US gem boycott
11 Sep 01 | Business
World Bank pushes anti-poverty drive
12 Feb 02 | Business
Tanzania wins US export rights
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