15 January 2018

Zambia: Met, Zari Assure Over Dry Spell, Armyworm

FARMERS worrying about the current lull in rain have been urged to remain calm with the situation expected to improve early next month.

The dry spell has affected mostly the Copperbelt, Lusaka and Southern provinces.

Metrological Department senior metrologist Victor Bupe said that the dry spell was likely to continue but rain was being anticipated for about three days this week.

Mr Bupe said the dry spell was normal almost in all rain seasons in Zambia but that they usually occurred in December.

He said this season has seen a shift of the dry spell from December to January making it difficult for farmers to replant their maize.

Mr Bupe said the current milimetres of rain were not sufficient for the growth of maize but it was expected that it would rain soon.

He said the spillover of moist Congo air should also cause rain in the provinces experiencing a dry spell between January 16 to 18.

"Farmers should be assured that the situation is likely to pick up in early February," Mr Bupe said.

Mr Bupe said this when he featured on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation's National Watch television programme yesterday.

And the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) has said that considering that the fall of armyworm was now known, it was manageable.

ZARI chief agriculture research officer Mweshi Mukanga reiterated that the armyworm was now in Zambia for the long term, with some 70,000 hectares of fields affected this season so far.

Dr Mukanga said that the key was to manage it below the economic effects for a farmer like it was with the other insects.

He said the possible solutions were to develop different varieties of maize that were more tolerant to the armyworm attack and identify other chemicals that could help curb its development.

Dr Mukanga defended ZARI's efforts in the fight against the armyworm saying it arrived in Zambia last year and the institute was still studying it.

Aero spraying of the insect was not safe because it could affect the health of people considering that maize was grown close to homes.

He said the current army worm was different from the one that came into Zambia five years ago and is believed to be from Brazil.

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