Larger grain borers, which first surfaced in Zambia’s Northern Province, have spread to the country’s Eastern Province destroying thousands of tons of maize.
Zambia’s Food Reserve Agency (FRA) described the outbreak as a serious threat to the nation’s food security, and has banned movement of maize in the affected areas to halt the spread of the pest.
The affected areas include Chilubi and Luwingu in the Northern Province and Chadiza, Katete and Chipata in the Eastern Province.
“We are treating this attack as an emergency and threat to national food security. We have already rejected more than 1 000 50 kg bags from farmers in one of the affected areas,” said FRA Executive Director Chola Kafwabulula.
Larger grain borers were detected a fortnight ago at a holding depot in the Chilubi District. The discovery sparked fears that it might spread to other areas through contamination.
Kafwabulula said the FRA was working with the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) to contain the situation. “Besides quarantine measures, we are working with ZARI in fumigating affected maize and assessing the extent of the outbreak,” he said.
The outbreak has heightened concerns around Zambia’s vulnerability to crop pests because of favourable prevailing climatic conditions for their breeding.
ZARI has since advised smallholder farmers to budget for the purchase of chemicals to combat crop pests.
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