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Army worms under siege

GOVERNMENT has procured 5000 litres of agricultural chemicals to combat African Armyworms outbreak in various parts of the country. Above Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit National coordinator Patrick Kangwa witnesses the dispatch at City Airport in Lusaka yesterday. PICTURE: CHANDA MWENYA

CATHERINE MUMBA, Lusaka & CHISHALA MUSONDA, Ndola
GOVERNMENT says it has distributed agricultural chemicals to all provinces to curb the spread of army worms following a directive by President Lungu.
Army worms have invaded some districts on the Copperbelt, Luapula, Central, Eastern and Lusaka provinces where they are damaging the maize crop.
The chemicals comprising 5,000 litres of Cypermethrine, Karate, Malathion and Chloropyrifos cost Government K3.5 million.
Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Julius Shawa told a press briefing yesterday that the Copperbelt Province was the first to receive the chemicals, which have already been distributed to all affected districts.
“Luapula also received the chemicals last night (Wednesday) and the three affected districts have also received. Lusaka too has already had the chemicals distributed and also we have dispensed to even those provinces that are not affected to get them prepared,” he said.
Mr Shawa said the plane carrying the chemicals to Muchinga, Northern and the rest of the provinces which were expected to reach their various destinations by 13:00 hours left around 10:00 hours yesterday.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture officers are available to restock to ensure that every district is covered in case there will be any shortfalls during distribution.
And Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) national co-ordinator Patrick Kangwa said the Provincial Disaster Management Committees have all been put on alert to work with provincial agriculture co-ordinators (PACOs) to ensure that they have full human resource support.
Mr Kangwa said DMMU has also put in place information dissemination strategies which include daily press briefings and a short message service (SMS) alert which will go round informing people on what is going on and giving clarifications.
“We also have a toll-free number 909 which has been activated and we wish, through you the press, to make it public. For information dissemination, we have covered all areas to ensure that no one is left behind,” he said.
And the Copperbelt Province has received and distributed to all the 10 districts the pesticides for the control of army worms which have ravaged about 12,000 hectares of maize fields in the province.
Copperbelt Province permanent secretary Howard Sikwela said in Ndola yesterday after Zambia Air Force (ZAF) aircraft airlifted the consignment on Wednesday night for onward dispatch to the 10 districts.
“I want to tell the province that last evening (Wednesday) we received the chemicals that are required for these army worms and these were delivered to us by ZAF, and indeed the same evening, we were able to deliver all the consignment to all the 10 districts of the province,” Dr Sikwela said.



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