Fall armyworms have infested more than 55 000 hectares crops in Zambia. Zambian Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya said almost all of the country’s 10 provinces are affected with Lusaka, Luapula and Eastern hit hardest.
“The armyworms are here to stay, and I would like to remind farmers to procure pesticides using the government funded electronic voucher (e-voucher) cards to salvage their crops,” Siliya said.
Last year more than 172 000 ha of maize over the 10 provinces were ravaged by armyworms. The cost of bringing the situation under control runs into millions of kwacha.
This year, government allocated K15 million to strengthen the response to the pest. On distribution of farm inputs, Siliya said 84% of the targeted 1 million smallholder farmers had received their inputs.
“I must admit, the e-voucher experienced challenges of late release of resources by government itself, late registration among farmers who did not have confidence in the system and commercial banks finding it difficult to distribute t farmers,” she said.
Siliya said K900 million have been spent on the programme so far, with only K187 million yet to be released. She said there was also an estimated 90 000 farmers who were yet to pay their K400 contribution to have their e-voucher cards activated.