13 December 2012

Zambia: Army Worm Invasion - Govt, Farmers Spray Ravaged Fields

Photo: MAO
A technician sprays insecticides.

THE Government is working with farmers to spray fields affected by army worms and will continue with the exercise in the next 10 days in various parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has urged the Government to invest more in research, pest surveillance and extension services in order to detect army worms and other outbreaks that could compromise the country's food security.

Army worms travel in small insect armies and consume everything in their path.

They are most active at night, hide under garden debris during the day and consume plants rapidly.

Agriculture and Livestock Minister Emmanuel Chenda said in an interview yesterday that the ministry was distributing chemicals in all agricultural camps and affected areas. "We are appealing to farmers and other stakeholders to join hands with Government to eliminate the foreign pests which are posing a threat to the food security," he said.

He said United Nations Development Programme officials yesterday held talks with Vice-President Guy Scott and pledged to help the Government eliminate the worms.

Meanwhile, the army worms have destroyed 80 per cent of crops in three farm blocs in Nyimba District, area Member of Parliament Forrie Tembo has said.

Mr Tembo, who is Local Government Deputy Minister said in an interview yesterday that the army worms had caused fear and panic among farmers.

In Kabwe, the cyper methrin vaccine that was sent for spraying the affected farms has run out.

Kabwe District Commissioner Patrick Chishala said the farmers had since been advised to purchase the vaccine as they wait for free supplies.

The worms have spread to several districts of Southern Province, Provincial Agricultural Coordinator Samuel Mukelabai has said.

Mr Mukelabai named Monze, Mazabuka, Namwala, Kalomo and Siavonga as some of the districts currently infested with the worms.

He said Ministry of Agriculture experts were already on the ground to assess the extent of damage to crops.

ZNFU media liaison officer Kakoma Kaleyi said the Government should invest more in research, early warning systems and extension services to be able to detect the outbreaks early enough.

Mr Kaleyi said in a statement released in Lusaka yesterday that the Government should embark on sensitisation of the farmers on pests and other challenges in the agriculture sector.

He said the union would work with the Government through extension services to sensitise farmers.

The army worms were first detected in Chisamba, Chibombo, and Chongwe districts.

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