Reduced global demand for copper has hurt Africa's second largest exporter of the commodity, Zambia. And that has had a knock-on effect for the rest of the economy. Laura Frykberg reports.
Rural Zambia has been invaded by soldiers small in size, but potentially large in damage. These armyworms threaten to destroy tens of thousands of hectares of maize crops. A vital food source for the impoverished African nation. Battling them, is the Zambian army, whose strategy appears to be working. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DISTRICT AGRICULTURAL COORDINATOR, JOSEPH PHAKATI SAYING: "Almost 100 percent of the chemicals have come now, so we expect that we should be able to reduce that 20 percent loss to less than 10 percent." But another frontline has opened up, Zambia's ailing copper industry. A drop in demand has seen prices hit near six-year lows. Closing mines and cutting thousands of jobs. Petrol prices have also increased - up nearly 39 percent. And that has had a knock on effect for the rest of the economy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENTREPRENEUR, LILLIAN KAUMA SAYING: "We have to buy our flour from millers who also buy grains from farmers who use farming equipment which usually use fuel, so the cost of production is high, at the end of the day they pass it on to the people who buy flour from them." (SOUNDBITE) (English) LUSAKA RESIDENT, NOMSA CHIRWA SAYING: "I find myself spending more than fifty percent of my income just to travel to and from work." But eradicating these problems could become easier. Copper prices are expected to recover this year and the fight to bring down inflation to edge closer to victory.