Zambia's influential farmers' lobby has expressed concern at the rate at which army worms are spreading and has expressed fears that the infestation will cause a huge economic loss if it is not curbed quickly, a statement released Thursday has said.
Last week, army worms invaded fields in four districts, destroying large swathes of planted crops but the crop-eating caterpillars have spread to more districts within days, causing anxiety among the farming community that it is likely to affect the 2012/2013 farming season.
According to preliminary investigations, over 80 percent of the planted crop has been eaten up.
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) said in the statement that the government should quickly mobilize resources for pesticides and other preventive measures to avoid the potential crop loss and negative setbacks the pests could cause to agriculture.
"The union is worried with the rate at which the army worms are being detected and is calling upon the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to quickly mobilize resources for pesticides and other preventive measures to avoid a potential crop loss and negative setback," Calvin Kaleyi, the association's media liaison officer, said in the statement.
Local media reports have indicated that army worms have spread to more districts in the country. Initially, army worms invaded districts in central and eastern province of the country but the reports indicate that army worms have been spotted in some districts in the southern, eastern and Muchinga provinces.
Minister of Agriculture Emmanuel Chenda on Tuesday described the outbreak of army worms as a disaster and expressed fears that if the outbreak persists, it will result in food insecurity.
The government has since dispatched officers to spray the affected areas.
According to agriculture experts, army worm is a serious and devastating pest of cereal crops such as maize, sorghum, millet and wheat. It is a migratory pest which displays a distinct migratory pattern.