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Soldier on, Wina tells armyworm-hit farmers

VICE-President Inonge Wina (second right) examines a maize crop infested with armyworms in Chongwe yesterday. Right is Lusaka Province Minister Japhen Mwakalombe.PICTURE: KACHA MIYOBA/ ZANIS

VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina has encouraged farmers who have lost their crops to armyworms and stalk borers not to lose hope because they still have time to re-plant and have a good harvest.
Mrs Wina said early maturing seeds can be planted before the end of January and will be able to geminate in good time.
She said Government will help farmers affected by armyworms and stalk borers access free seeds and fertiliser.
Mrs Wina said this in Chongwe yesterday when she paid a courtesy call on district commissioner Frazier Musonda.
“We have not lost it all, farmers can actually plant a variety of seeds not just maize so that in case of anything they do not lose it all,” she said.
Mrs Wina urged stakeholders to be actively involved in the fight against the armyworms as well as sensitising communities on the importance of reporting the presence of the pests in their fields early.
She said early detection of pests can help eradicate them before they attack more crops.
“Farming is an expensive venture and the impact of these worms has negatively affected the farmers,” she said.
Mrs Wina said the attack by the armyworms and stalk borers on crops is a national disaster which calls for concerted efforts.
She said President Lungu is committed to seeing that the fight against the pests is won, hence his active involvement.
Mrs Wina said she was in Chongwe to get first-hand information on the situation on the extent of the problem.
Earlier, Mr Musonda told Mrs Wina that over 17,000 hectares of crop has been invaded by stalk borers in Chongwe out of the normal hectares of between 33,000 and 35,000.
“Your coming here has energised us to put more efforts in this operation,” he said.
Lusaka Province Minister Japhen Mwakalombe, who is Chongwe Member of Parliament, said the area has received 1,300 litres of pesticide which has already been distributed to camp officers through the district agricultural coordinator’s office.
Mrs Wina later visited Senior Chiftainess Nkomesha Mukamambo II who said her fields have also been affected by stalk borers.
Mrs Wina visited some of the fields affected by stalk borers in Luposhi farming area.
One of the affected farmers, Gibson Saidi, said he noticed the pests in his fields last week and immediately notified officers from the district agriculture coordinator’s office after which he was given pesticides to spray.
Meanwhile, about 45,000 farmers in Kazungula district in Southern Province have begun collecting their inputs under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), CHALI MULENGA and NANCY MWAPE report from Livingstone.
Kazungula district commissioner Pascalina Musokotwane said the district received 52,175 bags of Compound D and 50,012 for Urea.
She assured farmers that have camped at the Kazungula district agriculture coordinator’s office in Livingstone that the distribution of inputs is expected to be completed by Tuesday next week.

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