The Sunday Mail
GOVERNMENT has started distributing bird repellent spray to wheat farmers whose crop is being threatened by huge flocks of quelea birds, which are destroying grain crop in some areas of the country.
Flocks of quelea birds are ravaging wheat fields in Midlands, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central, threatening to decimate this year’s winter wheat harvest.
According to experts, a flock of two million birds can devour as much as 20 tonnes of grain in a single day.
Desperate farmers had resorted to hiring part-time workers to help drive away the birds.
In an interview, Agriculture Extension Specialist Department of the Agricultural, Technical and Extension Services (Agritex) principal Mrs Fungai Kunaka said farmers should make use of the bird repellent.
“We are facing a problem of quelea birds and the areas mostly affected are Midlands, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central.
“Farmers are encouraged to use anthraquinone bird repellent,” she said.
“Some farmers were failing to buy the repellent, citing high prices. However, Government is now distributing them for free through the Grain Marketing Board.
“Anyone who has grown wheat can visit their nearest GMB depot for assistance.”
Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) director Mr Paul Zakariya, urged farmers to respond by taking advantage of the free repellents.
“Quelea birds are our biggest challenge this season, besides the traditional ones like power cuts,” said Mr Zakariya.
“In Midlands province, an estimate of 5 000 hectares is under threat and farmers in this province should take action immediately.
“As farmers we were aiming to harvest at least 5 tonnes per hectare as planned, but due to these problems affecting our crop, we are no longer sure of how much tonnes to expect,” he said.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson, Mr Tinashe Farawo urged farmers to work closely with their Agritex officers.
“Farmers are encouraged to report first to the nearest Agritex officers so that they can be given the repellents for free at any time,” he said.
“The repellents are being provided by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.”