CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka
VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina has described the outbreak of armyworms as a national crisis and has called for concerted effort from all to effectively address it.
And Government has so far released a total of K10.5 million in the ongoing country-wide operation to eliminate the destructive armyworms, which have affected an estimated area of 90,000 hectares of land.
President Lungu last week called for an emergency nation-wide programme to curb the spread of the crop-eating pests, which have invaded several areas with the Copperbelt, Central, Lusaka and Luapula provinces being the hardest hit.
Mr Lungu directed the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) and the Ministry of Agriculture to eradicate the worms, whose outbreak was first reported 14 days ago in Kitwe.
The DMMU emergency team to eliminate the armyworms has since been holding meetings to update the nation on the status of the operation.
Mrs Wina said this in Lusaka yesterday during a briefing at the DMMU offices on the status of the outbreak.
She said the outbreak of the pests should be aggressively fought because it is a threat to the countryâ€™s food security.
â€œThe fact that the worms continue ravaging [maize] fields means we need more effort to eradicate them because they pose a big threat to [national] food security.
â€œThey come with a force of mass destruction and we need to face them head-on,â€ she said after receiving an update from DMMU national co-ordinator Patrick Kangwa.
Mrs Wina urged DMMU and the Ministry of Agriculture to engage the chiefs, members of Parliament and councillors in the dissemination of information on the outbreak of the worms.
Acting Secretary to the Treasury Pamela Kabamba informed Mrs Wina that her office has so far released K10.5 million in the fight against the armyworms.
â€œWe had released K7 million to the Ministry of Agriculture and another K3.5 million was disbursed to the DMMU towards the operation against the armyworms,â€ Ms Kabamba said.
And Mr Kangwa said a total of 15,940 litres of five different chemicals to spray the worms have been distributed nation-wide with the Copperbelt Province receiving the highest volumes.
He said the balance of 28,991 litres of the chemicals was scheduled for distribution yesterday.
Mr Kangwa said 5,200 litres of chemicals were dispatched to the Copperbelt Province as at yesterday while a total of 9,600 litres is urgently required for Central, Lusaka, and Luapula provinces.
He said a total of K10 million is required for additional chemicals.
CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka