The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL ) has revealed that 32 Districts in 7 Provinces of the country have been affected since the outbreak of African Army Worms whose economic impact is still uncertain.
And the ministry has commenced started a massive sensitisation programme aimed at alerting farmers on the outbreak of army worms to combat the outbreak.
Giving a summary update on the African Army Worms outbreak, Agriculture and Livestock Permanent Secretary Siazongo Siakalange further revealed that as of 18th December, 2012 no new cases were reported.
Mr. Siakalenge explained that outbreak started in Muchinga Province but was quickly contained by the ministry officials and the high rainfall patterns in the northern parts of the country helped to contain the outbreak.
ZANIS reports that PS further explained that unlike the red locusts, army worms do not have a fixed habitat that can be monitored as they are migratory and may appear in an area spontaneously.
Mr. Siakalenge stated that the early warning mechanism can only be provided when the worms appear as is the case with the current outbreak which has been spontaneous.
He added that only one type of army worms has been observed in the affected fields stressing that the outbreak is at different stages of biological development.
The PS said it is certain that some loss of of production will occur whose estimation will known later in the season.
Mr. Siakalenge acknowledged that some farmers have not planted because of the outbreak and the late planting will also result in less than optimal yields for some farmers.
And Mr. Siakalenge has disclosed that a National Response Centre(NRC( has be setup within the ministry to coordinate the logistics of the activity and to provide timely advice to affected farmers.
He said government has bought chemicals and other requisites which are distributed to all affected districts and ministry officers are assisting farmers who are unable to spray.
The specific districts affected include Lundazi, Mbala,Choma, Luanshya, Ndola, Lusaka, Chilanga, Chongwe,Kabwe, Kapiri-Mposhi, Chisamba, Mazabuka, Chibombo, Mumbwa, Sinazongwe, Monze and Siavonga.
The rest are Namwala, Kazungula, Rufunsa, Nyimba, Petauke, Kafue, Shibuyunji and Chipata.
According to agriculturalists, army worms outbreaks typically occur when a period of consistent rainfall is followed by a relative dry spell which appears to be the cause of the current outbreak.
The weather patterns in the last week of November and early December 2012 seems to have created a conducive environment for the rapid multiplication of the worms.