Quelea wreak havoc on small grains

CHISUMBANJE - Quelea birds are wreaking havoc on small grains in the Lowvelds Chisumbanje area, where most farmers depend on millet, sorghum and rapoko.

Already there are fears that the outbreak of the birds could destroy sorghum worth thousands of dollars in the area. Farmers in the area last week raised the alarm when they reported the outbreak of the quelea birds in the area and said the situation needed urgent attention.

Most of the farmers in Chisumbanje had been contracted to grow the crop by a local company. The outbreak will definitely lead to a deficit in the sorghum crop output in the area, said a Department of Agriculture Research and Extension Services worker.

Quelea birds, whose population is estimated to be 1, 8 billion in 25 countries, cause extensive damage to cereal grains, especially wheat, rice, barely, sorghum and millets at ripening stages. Breeding occurs entirely outside the Highveld region and natural reserves starting in January after sufficient rains. In winter they move in large numbers and therefore tend to be a problem during this time of the year.

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