NANCY MWAPE, Lusaka
SEPTORIA, a fungal disease that causes numerous leaf spot diseases on wheat, has hit some farm areas on the Copperbelt and some parts of the country.
Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has since called on the Ministry of Agriculture to examine the cause and provide timely advice to farmers to avoid re-occurrence in future seasons.
In a statement issued last Friday, ZNFU said reports indicate that Mpongwe area on the Copperbelt is showing serious drop in wheat yields on the early planted and harvested wheat by around 33 percent in some areas and up to 50 percent on other patches.
“In other parts of the country, wheat growers have reported minimal evidence of septoria although the overall impact that this may have on production will not be known until after harvest is completed,” ZNFU notes.
The farmers’ union, however, notes that the wheat season has so far progressed well because of improved water levels and electricity supply.
The union urged farmers to remain vigilant by assessing effects of septoria as they harvest.
ZNFU has assured farmers to carry out a full assessment post-harvest.
It adds that it is devastating for farmers to experience losses on wheat because of reduced yields in a year when prices of maize and soybean have suppressed.
Zambia’s wheat industry is one of the success stories in the agriculture sector. The country now boasts of being self-sufficient in wheat production and enjoys abundant available wheat products, flour, bread and many other products that have become part of the Zambian dietary requirements.
The country has also become a source of wheat destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo.