By SYLVIA MWEETWA –
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has said his administration is ready to wipe out army worms which have invaded many maize fields on the Copperbelt and other parts of the country to avoid importation of maize.
President Lungu further maintained that the support the Government had given to affected farmers whose maize fields had been invaded by army worms was not political as alleged by ‘frustrated’ politicians.
The President said the level of destruction was alarming and required intervention, hence the Government’s decision to come to the aid of the farmers in various parts of the country affected by the army worms.
The Head of State was speaking yesterday in Kitwe’s Kakolo area in Kamfinsa.
“As a Government we are ready to fight the army worms because we want to ensure that the food security is maintained. We cannot allow the situation to go on because if this is not stopped, we will have a situation where we have to import maize to feed ourselves, and we don’t want that to happen.
“I am wondering how people can rejoice over the invasion of maize fields by army worms just because they want to get into State House,” he said.
Mr Lungu said the Government was ready to borrow money in an effort to defeat the army worms as a means of protecting the country’s food security.
He said there was need to protect the crop but asked Zambians not to underrate the power of prayers against the pests.
The Head of State said now was not a time to politicise the issue of army worms because it was affecting every farmer despite the political affiliation, colour or tribe and that it was saddening that some political opponents were rejoicing over such a calamity.
President Lungu said it was important to prevent the importation of maize, which would be costly to the country and asked the members of Parliament (MP), councillors and other leaders to join hands to fight the invasion.
Mr Lungu said he was ready to order the Zambia Army to see how best they could come on board to fight the army worms, and explained that spraying could not be done by air because the pests were attacking the seed and would be difficult to get rid of.
He challenged the MPs to be humble and go to their constituencies and find out the needs of the people, especially those whose fields have been invaded now that Parliament is on recess, instead of remaining in the city.
The President, who addressed some farmers and PF members, said he was ready to find a lasting solution to the army worm problem and called for oneness during this period.
Acting Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo said the Government had committed itself to working with farmers in a bid to save the crops.
Mr Katambo said the Government would assist farmers who wanted to replant the maize with seed.
Kitwe District Commissioner Chanda Kabwe told President Lungu that his office had continued to receive support from the MP, with others surrendering vehicles and providing fuel while undertaking tours of invaded fields.