Flying pests
NIGHTMARE: Qualea Birds

Pandamatenga farmers are spitting feathers after a sudden invasion of Quelea birds in their fields has threatened the bumper harvests they anticipated for this year, the professionals from are already working along with the situation.

“Pandamatenga is under siege from Quelea birds,” confirmed Chobe District Council chairperson, Paul Chabaesele during a full council session held in Kasane recently.

Commonly known as the Quelea, the world’s most populous wild bird species are a scourge to African farmers because of their fondness for cereal crops, including millet, sorghum and maize.

According to Chabaesele, 45 colonies have been sighted so far and 33 of them have been controlled.

“There are currently seven colonies that are pending control while five have absconded,” he revealed, noting that each colony is made of hundreds of thousands of birds capable of inflicting serious and extensive damage within a short period of time.

“Control teams are currently on the ground as there are about 12 000ha of sorghum and millet that are vulnerable to Quelea damage. The last batch of sorghum is expected to mature in 2-3 months,” Chabaesele told the full council session.

He identified a host of challenges, including shortage of qualified personnel for handling explosives and carrying out bird surveys, which he blamed for the delay in procuring the required resources to control the birds.

“There is also motor vehicle fuel shortages at Central Transport Organization (CTO) and the suspension of the Government Accounting and Budgeting System (GABS) in the control of immature crop,” he said.

“Some farmers have lost their crops completely,” he continued grimly, adding that the control program is expected to continue until August.

These large flocks of Quelea have migrated from Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe into Pandamatenga farms.

Endless efforts to get a comment from the Chairman of Pandamatenga Commercial Farmers Association, Tienie Kruger drew a blank as his mobile phone was not available.

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