It was detected in Limpopo before spreading to other provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal, with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirming the cases in late February.
The pest, said the national Department Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, was native to South and Central America and also occurred in the southern states of the US.
Biowatch’s agro-ecology manager Lawrence Mkhaliphi said: “In a balanced agro-ecological farming system, crop and predator diversity minimises the damage from pest outbreaks. It’s time for a rapid transition to agro-ecological farming methods as these work with nature, and help to mitigate climate change – otherwise we are likely to see ever more frequent plagues of pests, droughts, floods and consequent famine.” Professor Gyebi Duodu of the University of Pretoria’s Department of Food Science, which conducts research on healthy foods made from indigenous grains, said small-scale crop producers were already producing sorghum and other crops in South Africa.
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