Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya has announced that the outbreak of armyworms has been contained, but they have not been completely eradicated. As at 16 February, a total of 234,147 farmers on an area of 191,930 hectares of land have been affected.
However, lack of funding is threatening the fight against migratory locusts. According to the International Red Locust Control Organisation (IRLCO), locusts have reached the hopper stage in the breeding area of Kafue Flats with densities of up to 30 hoppers/m2 spread over 10,000 hectares. Aerial surveys in the Kafue Flats and other breeding areas (Lukanga Swamps and Simalaa Plains) were carried out in February, indicating that over 10,000 hectares had been damaged, including 1,600 hectares of maize. Low to medium density of hoppers (2-10 hoppers/m2) was also detected in 9,000 hectares of grassland between maize fields. Field reports from Mumbwa District confirm the report, with an estimated 878 hectares of maize belonging to 126 small-scale farmers in Nalubanda Agricultural Block being affected. IRLCO, with financial assistance from government, has started spraying, but resources are strained.
Migratory locusts are more than Zambia can handle
By Sifelani Tsiko/Zimpapers Syndication (extract) – full article here:
Countries in east, central and southern Africa need over $4 million to battle a locust plague that is threatening their food security. This is according to Moses Okhoba, director of the International Red Locust Control Organisation (IRLCO), talking to Zimpapers Syndication on the side-lines of a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation emergency technical meeting held to tackle a regional outbreak of crop-eating insects. Apart from the fall armyworm and the African armyworm, six IRLCO member states – Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – are also facing outbreaks of locusts, following observed increases in populations in traditional breeding areas. The main locust types include the brown locust, African migratory locust, Malagasy migratory locust and the red locust. “We have to control them before they fledge and fly as swarms. We need resources and equipment to control locusts, which are threatening our region’s fragile food security situation. It’s particularly frightening now, when we are just emerging from the worst El Niño-induced drought,” Okhoba stated. He explained that his organisation needs US$4 million to secure a helicopter, spray camps and motorised control units to fight the locusts. “We have less than six vehicle-mounted sprayers in the whole region. A [spraying] aircraft costs about $1 million, and yet we have invested over $6 billion on agriculture as a region. We need to act now!” When swarming, locusts can cover up to 100 kilometres a day. The insects undergo behavioural, ecological and physiological transformation when their population density passes a tipping point, after which they begin to act as a synchronised group moving out en masse to devour available food sources. Swarms consisting of up to 40 million insects can consume up to 80 million tonnes of plants a day, depriving 123,000 people of food in one day.