Thursday, 29 December 2016

Zambia Air Force Joins In Fight Against Army Worms

Army Worms eating grass
By Paul Shalala

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu has deployed the Airforce to join in the fight against army worms which have so far attacked maize fields in six of country’s 10 provinces.

Army Worms attack in their thousands and they eat and destroy any vegetation on their way.

The creatures have wrecked havoc in maize fields.

Maize is Zambia’s staple crop which millions of citizens eat on a daily basis.  

According to a statement by President Lungu’s press aide Amos Chanda, the head of state has directed the Zambia Air force, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit and the Ministry of Agriculture to curb the spread of army worms.

“The Zambia Air Force has since began to airlift chemicals to Ndola on the Copperbelt, Chinsali in Muchinga Province, Kasama in Northern Province and Chipata in Eastern Province. The District Agriculture Coordinators for Lusaka, Luapula and North Western Provinces have already collected the chemicals,” stated Mr Chanda.

He revealed that the President had directed that the chemicals that were purchased under emergency operations should be distributed to all parts of the country.

“The President is concerned that if the outbreak of the worms is not controlled speedily, the crop yield for 2016/2017 may negatively be affected. He has assured farmers that all provinces will receive the chemicals,” he stated.

The army worms were first spotted in Kitwe District on the Copperbelt last month.

Within two weeks, the worms spread to the whole district and by last week they had destroyed over 300,000 hectares of maize.

This forced the district administration in the area to buy and distribute cyclone and nimbecidine to farmers to help them halt the spread of the army worms by spraying it in the fields.

Last week, Agriculture permanent Secretary Julius Shawa confirmed that nine of the 10 districts on the Copperbelt had already been invaded by the army worms.

“Farmers who are suspicious of any creatures in their maize fields must report to the nearest agricultural office. Those who are sure its army worms, please buy cypermethrin at any nearest agro shop and spray,” said Mr Shawa.

Army worms were first reported in several parts of Zambia in 2013.

That time, they destroyed maize fields and left farmers with losses.

Since the directive was made yesterday, the Zambia Air Force has continued flying the chemicals to various provinces.

The allocation for the Copperbelt landed in Ndola yesterday and today, Provincial Minister Bowman Lusambo is physically distributing the chemicals to Lufwanyama, Mpongwe and Kalulushi Districts.

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