Zambia battles insect pest threatening staple food crops
The pest, the Larger Grain Borer (LGB), is now threatening household food security in many areas of the country, especially in Central, southern Lusaka, Copper Belt, Eastern, Northern and Luapula provinces. In Zambia, approximately 70 percent of the maize is produced by small- and medium-scale farmers who use traditional storage methods.
"It has been hectic here in Zambia as LGB spotfires are appearing all over the country", reports Lindsay Semple, an FAO consultant working on Zambia's National LGB Containment and Control Programme (NLCCP).
First reported in Zambia in 1993, LGB had been restricted to the Nakonde District of Northern Province bordering Tanzania. But, in the autumn of 1995, massive quantities of LGB-infested maize were imported from Tanzania to offset a maize shortage brought about by three years of drought. An avalanche of infested maize poured into Zambia and was distributed as famine relief across the country (sometimes by helicopters to reach inaccessible areas), along the entire line of road/rail routes southward to Livingstone and to areas bordering Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique.
To aggravate the situation, the government liberalized maize marketing at the same time. This led to an influx of traders, many of whom knew nothing of procedures and regulations to prevent the spread of pests and diseases, moving maize where supplies were short and prices high. Much of the maize they trucked across the country was infested with LGB.
The Government of Zambia quickly established the National LGB Containment and Control Programme in response to this mass influx of LGB. Its principal thrust is to develop an Integrated Pest and Commodity Management Strategy so that small-scale farmers are able to control LGB and other storage pests. Some control options for small-scale farmers include:
In the medium to long term, biological methods will be
used to significantly reduce the severity of LGB
infestations, including the release of the predatory beetle
Teretriosoma nigrescens, which feeds exclusively on LGB
larvae and pupae. The beetle, mass-reared at Mount Makulu
Central Research Station near Lusaka, has been released at
certain infested locations, and these releases are scheduled
to continue. The predator is expected to significantly
reduce LGB populations both in the field and in the