By JAMES KUNDA
THE armyworm, the pest which affected 279, 843 farmers and 222, 586 hectares of farmlands countrywide in 2016/17 farming season, is a permanent threat to seasonal crop yields in Zambia including the 2018/19 farming season.
This is according to research findings by agriculture experts from Zambia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda presented in Lusaka yesterday.
In Zambia, the research was conducted by the ZARI with a focus on the 2016/2017 farming season.
Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) Entomologist Gilson Chipabika said the armyworm was a permanent habitant in crop fields and could not be eradicated but controlled.
“The armyworm is here to stay and continues to pose a serious threat to crops even in the forthcoming season.
“Coordinated response is therefore required amongst all stakeholders in the sector to counter its spread,” Mr Chipabika
He said this during a Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) workshop in Lusaka yesterday, where agriculture experts from the five countries presented research on the findings on the
armyworm impact on their countries.
Mr Chipabika said in that in the 2016/17 farming season 279, 843 farmers countrywide were affected by the armyworm, which spread across 222, 586 hectares of land.
He said the Government in that season spent K3 million in control measures of the pest, including purchase of seed for replanting to salvage the yield for that period.
Acting Agriculture Permanent Secretary Peter Lungu said the country, however recorded a decrease in armyworm prevalence in the 2017/2018 farming season.
He said in that season, 176, 973 farmers countrywide were affected by the pest which spread across 113,021 hectares.
“This represented a 35 per cent decline in the affected number of farmers and a 20 per cent drop in the affected hectarage,” Mr Lungu said.
He said Government, in collaboration with institutions such as CABI and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had intensified the implementation of pest control measures to reduce the armyworm prevalence in the country.