The Zambian Minister of Agriculture, Dora Siliya, announced that the government would be distributing 50 000 kg of early maturing seed to help farmers recoup losses suffered due to armyworms.
Siliya said that about 124 000 ha of an estimated 1.4 million ha planted under maize have been affected by the worms. She told local farmers in Chilanga, south of Lusaka, that seed will be released promptly to farmers who suffered losses. She was visiting in the area on a fact-finding mission on the impact of armyworms.
Government 10 days ago launched an emergency spraying operation with pesticides procured at the cost of ZMW30 million, to contain the ravaging worms in 6 of Zambia’s 10 provinces.
Siliya said the distribution of early maturing seed was among the various interventions government had put in place to ensure that Zambia remained food-secure despite the armyworms setback. She also emphasised that government was distributing procured chemicals to fight the worms with urgency.
Meanwhile, the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) accused some district agriculture officers of illegally enriching themselves through the process. ZNFU President Jervis Zimba claimed that some officials tasked to distribute chemicals to fight the armyworms were instead selling it to private dealers who in turn were dispatching it to farmers at exorbitant prices.
“We are aware of district officials who are said to be selling the chemicals meant for farmers,” he told the media in Lusaka. The government has not yet responded to the allegations.