The heavy rain being experienced in Zambia is hampering the fight against red locusts, says the International Red Locusts Control for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCo-CSA).
IRLCo-CSA director Moses Okhoba said the heavy rain made it impossible for his officers to work continuously. As a result only a portion of the 3,500 ha of locust infested fields could be treated.
“We have sprayed 1,200 hectares since last Wednesday in Maala area in Kafue, and will continue as soon as the heavy rain stops,” Okhoba said.
The vast area for spraying will cover part of Namwala in Southern Province, as well as Itehzi-Tezhi and Mumbwa districts in Central Province where the crop-eating grasshoppers were causing panic among local farmers.
Okhoba assured farmers that livestock and crops are safe from chemicals used in the spraying. The programme is supported by the Zambian Air Force (ZAF) and Zambia National Service (ZNS).
The insects being sprayed are not fully grown. Ravenous adult insects are capable of destroying a maize field within hours.
The Zambian government released K4.7 million to bolster efforts to bring the red locust plague under control. It is deemed a threat to food security in Southern Africa.
According to IRLCo-CSA, climatic changes in six member states – Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania – brought about favourable breeding conditions for red locust.