The red locust invasion in Central Province has spread to 3 000 hectares of maize fields, barely days after the initial damage was estimated at 800ha. The crop-eating grasshoppers have affected 2 500 farmers in Itezhi-tezhi and Mumbwa districts.
Itezhi-tezhi district commissioner Hendrix Kaimana says the situation is becoming desperate.
“We would like to see a much quicker response from the International Red Locust Control for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCo-CSA), because of the devastating damage caused by the pests,” Kaimana says.
He says the locusts have since travelled about 300 kilometres from Chief Muwezwa – where they were first spotted – to Musungwa chiefdoms.
Provincial deputy permanent secretary Felix Mang’wato says his office is working with the IRLCo and the ministry of agriculture to control the pests.
He says it is important to identify the breeding spots.
“If we know the breeding ground, then we can wipe them out completely,” he says.
The IRLCo is yet to comment on the latest development.
Last week it started spraying in the Kafue flood plains, where the insects were first spotted in December 2016. The programme will now be extended to Lukanga and Mweru wa Ntipa swamps, which were potential outbreak areas.
On Tuesday, provincial minister Sydney Mushanga informed vice president Inonge Wina of the locust pest.
Government has already released K2 million to the IRLCo to fight the red locusts.