By SYLVESTER MWALE -
AUTHORITIES in Mumbwa District in Central Province say the red locusts – the crop-eating grasshoppers which wreaked havoc last farming season – have resurfaced in Chief Shakumbila’s area.
District Commissioner Felix Ndopu said more than 30 hectares of farmland had been affected by the insects and that farmers were now panicking to save the crop from being completely devoured by the grasshoppers.
The re-emergence of the inspects comes in the wake of the warning from the International Red Locust Control for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCo-CSA) that the affected area is a breeding ground for red locusts.
“We have reports of the invasion of the red locusts again this year and the most affected area is Nalubanda where 30 hectares have already been affected, which is an equivalent of 20 farmers.
“I must also say that from the reports I have received, the insects are at hatching stage and it is at this stage where we need to eliminate them before they swam into farmers’ fields,” he said.
Mr Ndopu said farmers with their own resources should prioritise the procurement of pesticides as they waited for the Government’s intervention in the fight against the devastating grasshoppers.
He said agriculture camp officers were also on the ground to assess the potential damage that could be caused by the red locusts and determine appropriate remedy.
Red locusts are crop-eating grasshoppers found in sub-Saharan Africa and can wipe out a maize field within minutes.
More than 1,000 small-scale farmers, most of them in Nalubanda camp in Chief Shakumbila along the Kafue flood plains, were affected in the last farming season.
Apart from Mumbwa, scores of farmers along the Kafue Flood Plains, including Itezhi-Tezhi, Namwala and part of Kafue were also affected, forcing the IRLCo-CSA to carry out aerial spray of more than 3,000 hectares.
Meanwhile, Mr Ndopu said farmers whose fields had been invaded by the fall army worms in the district had been advised to redeem more pesticides using the e-vouchers cards.
He said that the owners of the 2.5 hectares that had been invaded by the crop-eating pest had already received their activated cards, hence the need for them to buy the chemicals and save the crop.
Mr Ndopu reiterated the Government’s commitment to helping the farmers save the crop following the release of K36 million towards the fight against army worms.