MAPUTO– The Mozambican government says it needs 160 million meticais (about 2.6 million US dollars) to prevent and fight the various pests which threaten agricultural production in the country but it currently has only 22 million meticais for this task.

Government Spokesperson, Ana Comoana, who is Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, told the media after the weekly Cabinet meeting here Tuesday: The situation is regarded as worrying if we bear in mind that pests contribute to losses in the fields and post-harvest losses of about 30 to 40 per cent of the crops, which affects food and nutritional security.”

The government has a plan of action to prevent and combat agricultural pests as failure to intervene against the pests would imply costs of about 19 billion meticais, she added. That’s why we have a plan of action which should involve the government and its partners, and the rural communities to prevent these losses,” said Comoana.

We’ve already begun to feel the effects of pests. For example, in Nampula Province, there’s been a reduction in the export of bananas. In 2013, we used to export ten containers of bananas a week, but now we’re exporting one a week or nothing at all.”

She added that the infestation affecting coconut palms had resulted in lost exports of at least 2.8 million USD.

For other crops, about 48,000 hectares are affected, but we have 33,000 hectares of these under control. In the case of maize, we have 3,000 hectares that can be regarded as lost.”

Pests and blights, Comoana said, affect both the economy and the country’s food security. Fruit fly infestation, she added, has been reported in all provinces, while other serious threats are posed by the lethal yellowing disease in coconut palms and by the tomato borer.