The Zambian government released K4.7 million to bolster efforts to bring the plague of red locust under control. The pest has invaded more than 3 000 hectares of maize fields in Central Province’s Itezhi-tezhi and Mumbwa districts.
This still left a shortage of more than K5 million needed to effectively wipe out the migratory crop-eating locusts.
Agriculture minister Dora Siliya on Tuesday said the situation is alarming, as swarm formations were escalating.
“This is now a regional threat to the food security of Zambian and other Southern African countries,” Siliya said.
The International Red Locust Control for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCo-CSA) agrees.
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 and army worm.
Siliya said eradicating the red locust will require a coordinated effort among countries.
“I will soon be writing to my counterparts who are member states of the IRLCo-CSA to mobilise resources for a regional response to the red locusts,” Siliya said.
A total of K10 million is needed to deal with the locusts which were first spotted in Zambia’s Kafue flood plains in December 2016.
The IRLCo-CSA is already spraying maize fields under attack in Central Province.