Malawi Govt raises alarm to contain Armyworm outbreak

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As farmers across the country are recovering from loss of crop fields due to scotching suns after rains stopped in the past few weeks, a plague of Army worms has hit some parts of the country causing damage especially to Maize crop fields

According to a statement released by Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, eight districts out of the twenty-eight have been affected.

Armyworms have already destroyed a combined 2000 hectares of maize fields in the districts of Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Nsanje, Kasungu, Mangochi, Mulanje and Chiradzulu, reads part of the statement. 

Minister of Agriculture Dr. George Chaponda confirmed in an interview with Reuters on Saturday saying the invasion is spreading very quickly to other districts 

The invasion is spreading very quickly than we thought and this week nine districts have been affected destroying 2000 hectares of crop fields- Reuters 

Rains started on a good note giving hope to farmers; however a dry spell hit several districts after farmers had planted resulting into crops to wither. Farmers have been forced to replant after rains had restarted 

I thought it was first good rains so I planted and my maize germinated well, Said Gerald Phiri of Zanda Village, TA Chulu in Kasungu district; however the rains stopped before I even started weeding, the fields got scotched, and now I have replanted almost two acres of maize- He lamented 

Agriculture remains the mainstay of at least 80 per cent of Malawi population; most of them in the rural but it has faced several challenges in recent years with more than a third of the population depending on food aid. 

The outbreak of Armyworm poses another threat to a better harvest as the country is already facing other climatic hazards due to El Nino

Ministry of Agriculture through the Department of Agriculture Extension Services has intensified on raising awareness to farmers on how to contain the invasion. 

In a statement the Ministry has called on farmers to conduct field inspection and report any identified cases of the pests to the nearest Agriculture office. The ministry is advising farmers to buy Cypermethrin 200 EC from Agriculture Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) and authorized Agro-dealers. 

If the current condition continues, yields would decline and farmers who benefited from the Farm Input Subsidy program will have nothing in the end while others will not repay loans taken out to buy seeds and fertilizers.

Weekly reports from the Farmer Call center for the past weeks have shown evidence of Army-worm outbreak in several districts of the country as a lot of farmers having been calling in

We are receiving a lot of calls from farmers informing us about Army-worms but mostly farmers are asking about recommended chemicals to apply as well as where to find them- Joyce Kaliwo the call center manager explained

We have solicited a list of authorized Agro-dealers in all districts to whom we are referring the farmers to find the recommended chemicals whenever we receive such calls – She added 

At FRT we are airing a series of broadcasts on several of our broadcasting partners both national and community radios to raise awareness and sharing information with farmers about how to control the outbreak. About 25000 farmers are receiving step-by-step SMS-tips on the same via their mobile phones   

Malawi successfully contained an armyworm invasion that affected seven districts across the country just a year ago. Neighboring countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe have also battled with armyworm invasion in recent weeks with Zambia involving the military to control the outbreak 

 

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