The government has been duped by an unnamed chemical manufacturer it had engaged to supply chemicals to deal with the quelea bird menace.
The pests have wreaked havoc across the country and are threatening the winter wheat crop which is nearing maturity.
Speaking to the media after a recent tour of Kwekwe farms in Sherwood block including President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Precabe Farm, Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka, confirmed a chemical manufacturer mislead the government by supplying the wrong chemical. He said:
On a sad note when the government tendered the procurement of the chemicals to control the birds, the supplier provided a sample that was within specifications.
However, when the bulk of the chemicals was presented and utilised we checked their efficacy. Our tracking team the scientists found out that the chemicals were wrong.
Masuka did not disclose how much money the government lost through the deal but described the actions of the supplier not only as sabotage but also as a national security threat. He said:
This is sabotage and a national security threat and we are looking into that. As a stop-gap, we have airlifted additional chemicals from China and we are expecting the chemicals.
He said the government has put in place measures to control the quelea bird situation. Said Masuka:
We have experienced an explosion in the number of quelea birds in Sherwood Block.
The tours have demonstrated that some measure of control has been put in place and more needs to be done.
We have limited chemicals in stock, therefore, we are going to use drones to control these birds.
The Minister urged farmers to use bird repellents which he said were found to be effective.