The Zambian Ministry of Agriculture says it needs K30 million to combat fall armyworms that have invaded 70 000 hectares of fields.
The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Julius Shawa, says they requested additional funding from the national treasury. Government had budgeted for K15 million to tackle armyworm infestations during the 2017/’18 farming season.
“The money set aside in the budget won’t be enough. As you would realise, we have to look at other solutions, including different chemicals, to curb armyworm attacks. This adds more costs,” Shawa said.
Meanwhile, the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) says that some 70 000 hectares of fields were now affected by armyworms. Last year, more than 172 000 ha of maize fields, engulfing all 10 provinces, were ravaged by armyworms.
“The current armyworm is different from the one experienced 5 years ago, and ways are being explored to find solutions, including developing maize varieties resistant to the crop pest,” said ZARI Chief Agriculture Research Officer Mweshi Mukanga.
The armyworm infestation is piling more pressure on farmers worrying about the current month-long dry spell affecting the Copperbelt, Lusaka and Southern provinces.
Victor Bupe, Senior Meteorologist at the Zambia Meteorological Department (ZMD) has assured farmers that the rain situation is likely to improve in the next few weeks.