FARMERS in Nyamandlovu and Bubi, Matabeleland North province have started counting their losses after quelea birds invaded the area and feasted on their winter wheat crop.
The birds are ranked by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as the worst destructive birds on planted crops.
“I lost almost a quarter of my wheat crop to quelea birds,” Trymore Nkomo, a Nyamandlovu farmer told journalists during a tour on Wednesday.
Another farmer, Marvellous Nyakudya added: “I have lost almost a third of a hectare to the birds.”
Matabeleland North provincial Agritex officer Dumisani Nyoni said the department recently dispatched a team of officers to assess the damage.
“Quelea birds are a perennial problem especially during this time of the season,” Nyoni said.
“We have received a report of the birds’ invasions in Bubi where we have dispatched our team to fumigate the affected farms.
“Quelea is very expensive to eradicate. As a ministry, we are on high alert and we urge farmers to be on the lookout of the birds.”
According to FAO, the birds can destroy close to US$70 million worth of crops worldwide per annum.
Quelea birds are described as a wild bird species with an estimated adult breeding population of 1,5 billion pairs found in Sub-Saharan Africa.