By Chali Mulenga The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Kazungula and Livingstone says there is outbreak of army worms in the two districts. The two districts are in the southern province in Zambia have hit by the army worms, Kazungula and Livingstone district agriculture coordinator Richard Nambwalu has confirmed the outbreak of the army worm in an interview in Livingstone and added that officers had been sent to the affected areas. “I wish to confirm that army worms have been seen in Livingstone and Kazungula district, in Livingstone, they are in eastern part of the district and in Kazungula they are in Mukuni area,” he said. Mr Nambwalu explained that his office has sent officers to the affects areas so that the extent of the problem can be assessed. He said that he has mobilized his officers and that he was also trying to get sprayers so that the officers could help the most affected areas in the two districts. He said his office will by the end of the day receive more chemicals from the provincial headquarters of the ministry to help in the control of the army worms. He said that farmers have been advised to take precautions by buying a chemical that they should spray on their crops. “We are only hoping the extent of the damage is not very bad that the army worms have caused in the farms that they are and not so wide sprayed,” he said. “We have dispatched a team of officers to see the outbreak of the army worms and so that they see the extent of the damage,” he said.
He said that Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda
) is part of the order of Lepidoptera and is the caterpillar life stage of a moth. He said that it is regarded as a pest and can wreak havoc with crops if left to multiply. He said the Government had put measures in place to ensure the worms, which also hit other parts of the country, were controlled. “The army worms are very distractive and can consume the crops and that it is only fortunate this is the time that the people are planting and if it was time when the crop was fully grown it would not be easy,” he said. Mr Nambwalu said that if the environment is good for the eggs to hatch, this is the reason for them to be wide spread. And the Zambian Government has kicked of the spraying of the army worms in Kazungula and Livingstone to ensure that they are controlled. The government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has stepped up measures to control the army worms. Kazungula district commissioner Pascalina Musokotwane said that the Government through the ministry of agriculture and livestock has received some chemicals to help in the control of the army worms. Speaking to journalists in Kazungula yesterday, when she kicked of the spraying exercise in her district, she said that farmers should not wait for the ministry. “You should not wait for Government but you should take a proactive role by spraying your fields,” she said. Ms Musokotwane reminded the farmers that the chemicals for the control of the army worms. She said the situation seems manageable on the ground as the Government was making efforts to ensure that the situation is brought under control. She said her office has reported to the disaster management unit so that something can be done to help avert the situation. “The government will come to the aid of the farmers that have been affected by the army worms in the country,” she said. Ms Musokotwane said that the PF government is a listening Government and that it would look into situation will not leave the people to starve cause of the army worms’ havoc. She said it is good that some people are still planting so their maize has not been affected by the outbreak. “It is a blessing in disguise that some people have not yet planted,” Ms Musokotwane. Kazungula and Livingstone district agriculture coordinator Richard Nambwalu stressed on the need for the farmers to buy their own chemicals. He said that it is not the whole district that has been infested by the army worms. Mr Nambwalu said that it is only areas where they are large swarms have invaded. “The swarms are big as the juvenile army worms are targeting the fresh crops,” he said. He said there is need to create buffers or barriers in the fields using the chemical so that the army worms do not spread to other areas in the farmer’s fields. He said the chemical was poisonous and that farmers should ensure that after spraying they take precautions in ensuring the livestock does not find its way into the fields where the chemical has been sprayed. “The ministry in the district has received 20 by 500 mls from the provincial headquarters and that the chemicals will go long way,” he said. And the affected farmer Phyllis Simwizi said the only challenge is that the resources are not enough it help them to buy more seeds to replant. “It is a big challenge for us to money to help us in buying the chemical to the control of army worms,” she said. And earlier in the month, army worms which have been destroying green crops in Kazungula’s Kauwe area had been controlled, the worms were controlled as they were reported early and that the thunder storms that the area received also helped to wash away worms. The farmers had been advised to be on the lookout for the army worms and report such cases to immediately in case they resurface.