Drought, pests destroy 50 p.c. of Mumbwa maize crop
Published On March 2, 2018 » 1970 Views» By Evans Musenya Manda » Latest News, Stories
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Mumbwa may have lost up to 50 per cent of its expected maize harvest for this season as a result of the prolonged dry spell experienced in January, authorities have said.
District Commissioner Felix Ndopu said the drought has been compounded by an attack of the armyworm and invasion of the red locust which devoured more than 247 hectares of the crop.
Mr Ndopu said in an interview that 607 farmers had been affected by the pests that were becoming a perennial problem in the district following a similar experience last year.
“When it comes to the reduction of crop yield because of the drought, we are looking at 50 percent; so even when we are looking at finding food for people that might be affected, we are looking at that range of 50 percent,” he said.
Mr Ndopu dismissed suggestions the community might face starvation saying farmers in the area had produced harvests well in excess of projections in the last two seasons, much of which was still lying in Food Reserve Agency (FRA) sheds.
“As we are talking now, our district FRA they have over 122,000 by 50 kilogrammes of maize, so even when we are looking at relief food, we are still able to help affected farmers,” he said.
He said a number of farmers, having learned from previous struggles with pests and drought, had adopted conservation farming techniques and were doing well.
“We have quite a number of farmers that are now practising conservation farming and they have managed to do quite well and should manage (a crop) for consumption,” he said.
Mumbwa district’s economic mainstay has always been agriculture and it has more than 16,000 subsistence farmers currently enrolled on the Government’s e-voucher system, the farming inputs support programme.
Mumbwa District Cooperative Union board secretary Goodson Mulimo said the dry spell in January had provided a  lesson on the need to practice conservation farming by small-scale farmers.
“This is because the impact of the drought on those who practised conservation farming has not been as bad as on those that are just doing conventional agriculture methods,” he said.
Mr Mulimo appealed to the Government to quickly carry out an in-depth assessment to identify people that might require relief food so that it could plan a rescue package.

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