Power and Politics

Govt sets up emergency response team to tackle drought disaster


Government has constituted a drought and emergence response team comprising of three defence wings to respond to President Hakainde Hichilema’s directive.

The President recently declared drought as a disaster and emergency and directed the defence wings to play a crucial role in mitigating the effects of the national calamity both in short and long term.

Defence Minister, Ambrose Lufuma, said the team would be chaired by Ministry of Defence Permanent Secretary with members drawn from all the defense wings namely, Zambia Army, Zambia Air Force (ZAF) and the Zambia National Service (ZNS).

Addressing a media briefing in Lusaka on Tuesday, Lufuma stated that the move was to ensure the speedy actualization of the President’s directive.

He implored all the defence wings to quickly craft robust irrigation strategies for the Ministry to lobby for funds.

“As Minister of Defence, therefore, i will ensure that the Presidential directive is implemented and i expect full cooperation from all the defence wings,” the Minister said.

Lufuma directed ZNS to immediately start preparations for irrigated maize in all the farms that have centre pivot irrigation equipment.

He added that Zambia Army and ZAF should utilise water sources within and around their Copperbelt and North-Western Provinces based farms to engage in irrigated maize production.

“The Ministry will leverage on the expertise of ZNS in agriculture production through the provision of technical and mechanical support of the two sister services,” the Minister said.

Lufuma also directed ZNS to intensify anti-smuggling operation efforts countrywide to ensure the locally available stocks are not smuggled.

Read More: Hichilema declares drought national disaster and emergency, as 2.2 million hectares of farmlands destroyed

He further warned unscrupulous traders in the habit of inflating prices of Eagle mealie meal beyond the government prescribed rate that they risk being blacklisted and their consignment forfeited to the state.

During the same briefing, ZNS Commander Lieutenant General, Maliti Solochi, said the service would soon commence field preparations which would gradually replace the Soyabeans and maize crops currently under irrigation.

“We are going to put to crop 1, 978 hectares of irrigated maize by the end of July this year with a projected yield of about 15,000 metric tonnes of maize grain by the end of their third quarter,” Solochi disclosed.

He announced that the service had suspended the growing of wheat this year to commit its irrigation equipment and more cleared land to growing maize.

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