The government has been advised to train more entomologists so that they can assist farmers maximise production by identifying pests that spoil crops, particularly in the cotton growing Lake Zone area.
This was said by Prof Hosea Kayumbo in an interview on Friday who pointed out that training of extension entomologists would make a difference in guiding and advising farmers on pest control instead of relying much on the use of insecticide.
He said, most of the insecticides are wasted because they are applied when the insect population has not reached a threshold or when they have already done irreparable damage. So it is important to apply the insecticides timely.
Through this method, he said, much insecticide could be saved and the farmers could get more harvest.
Presently farmers understand the insects that are harmful to their crops and the kind of damage they cause to them, he said.
“What farmers do not know is that there are other insects that are useful to the farmers. These naturally occurring ‘enemies’ are in fact friendly to the farmer as they devour pests,” he said.
“By using insecticides wrongly we may be killing these useful or friendly insects and make the insect problem much worse,” he said.
This is true for cotton as well as for food crops like maize, as well as commercial crop like coffee, he noted.
More could be done to advise the farmers if there were enough extension entomologists deployed to assist them on the judicious use of insecticides, he said.
Prof Kayumbo believes that there is much that can be done to assist the farmers raise food production in a move to liberate them.
This can only be achieved by making a combined use of fertilisers and insecticides on well grown crops that are sown timely, he said.
“Increase in yields cannot be achieved when insecticides are applied on late planted weedy plots,” he said.
“Presently insects, pests and disease are still the major concern for farmers country-wide in that they reduce the share of production,” Prof Kayumbo said.