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Armyworm fight takes government to Brazil

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The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture (Pac) and two senior officials from the Ministry of Agriculture have been to Brazil to learn about the armyworm, which threatens maize, the country’s staple crop

Pac Chairperson, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, said in an interview from Brazil that Malawi and other African countries are trying to learn about methods the South American country used to defeat the maize-eating pest in 20 years.

Chidanti-Malunga is in the company of Director of Crops in the Ministry of Agriculture Godfrey Chingoma and Chief Director in the ministry Yanila Mtupanyama.

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In a WhatsApp response last week, Chidanti-Malunga said the tour has brought African government together to learn from the Brazil experience.

“We already have learnt that coordination plays a huge role. When various stakeholders like the government, research institutions, civil society organisations, media and the Legislature come together, the unity works wonders in defeating the worm,” he said.

“The pest has come and we really have to learn to stay with the pest because there is no means that can eradicate this pest; we need to train young people who can look into this issue.”

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Commenting on the effectiveness of chemicals, Malunga said some chemicals seem to work while others do not work.

“Yes, some chemicals are working; some chemicals are not working. But you have to remember that, being a new pest, everyone is still learning. The bottom line is that each country has to devise a coping me cha n ism suitable to their country; all sorts of mechanisms ranging from biological, physical and chemical,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture during the 2017/18 growing season, the fall armyworm affected about 380,000 hectares. The affected hectares represent about 40 percent, a figure representing a loss of 73,000 metric tonnes of maize.

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