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MPs join fight against armyworms

PROFILE: MINISTER of Livestock Michael Katambo (right) sprays insecticide (Lambdacyhalothrin) on an army-worms infested maize field in Masaiti District. On the left is Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Julius Shawa and farmer Daniel Makwenda (middle). PICTURE: STAFRANCE ZULU

ARTHUR MWANSA, CHAMBO NG’UNI, Lusaka, Chibombo
LUSAKA Province Minister Japhen Mwakalombe is happy that members of Parliament (MPs) in the province have responded well to President Lungu’s directive for them to return to their respective constituencies to help sensitise their constituents on how to counter the outbreak of armyworms.
And Mr Mwakalombe has advised farmers in Lusaka who are reportedly using detergent pastes as a pesticide to immediately stop the practice because it may pose a health hazard to human lives.
Mr Mwakalombe, who is Chongwe MP, said this in an interview yesterday.
He said his random checks have proved that MPs in his province are busy sensitising their constituents on the need to eliminate armyworms.
“The response from MPs in Lusaka has been excellent. We might not have heard or read much in the media about their engagement in countering the outbreak of armyworms, but from what I have observed and according to investigations, all MPs in my province have taken President Lungu’s call seriously and are on the ground conducting sensitisation programmes,” he said.
Mr Mwakalombe appealed to all MPs who had not heeded the President’s call to quickly do so.
And Mr Mwakalombe has appealed to farmers using detergent paste to control the pests to stop doing so.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture and the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) are spending huge sums of money to ensure farmers eliminate armyworms using the right chemicals.
“My appeal to our farmers is that they should follow laid-down procedures by the Ministry of Agriculture to counter armyworms that have invaded their maize fields. Boom detergent paste will not eliminate this because the eggs produced by these worms do not die from detergents,” he said.
Mr Mwakalombe said farmers should always adhere to approved control measures to eliminate armyworms.
He assured that he would ensure his constituents in Chongwe district are fully sensitised on the fight against the armyworms.
And farmers in Chibombo district in Central Province have thanked Government for giving them free chemicals to fight armyworms and engaging the Zambia National Service (ZNS) to spray their fields.
The farmers told Central Province Minister Sydney Mushanga here on Saturday during an inspection of fields ravaged by armyworms that without the intervention of Government, they would have lost all their maize.
Patrick Manyerekete of Chikumbi village, where 16 ZNS personnel were found spraying his 11-hectare field, said on his own he would not have managed to contain the armyworms.
“I am thanking the government of Zambia and our President Edgar Chagwa Lungu for supplying us with chemicals and sending ZNS officers to spray our fields,” Mr Manyerekete said.

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