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Armyworms attack 25,700 hectares

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The Ministry of Agriculture has disclosed that fall armyworms have attacked 25,700 hectares which are under irrigation farming.

However, the affected hectares are lower as compared to 138,344 hectares that were attacked by the same fall armyworms during the 2016/17 rain-fed farming.

Ministry spokesperson, Osborne Tsoka, said yesterday that government is trying to ensure that the country eliminates the worms before the start of the 2017/28 farming season.

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“We are using a chemical called dursban which is proving to be effective because it is killing a lot of the fall armyworms. However, the chemical is still under trial to ascertain its efficacy and the preliminary trials are indicating that the chemical is really working,” Tsoka said.

Last month, the ministry said that it was purchasing 10,000 litres of dursban to help kill the pests.

Tsoka also said the government is looking at the integrated pest management strategies by combining various ways to contain the pests.

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“We are trying to find natural predators of the worms that will be introduced in the fields. Once that is done, it will be a breakthrough in dealing with the pests because we will not be spending a lot to manage the fight against the pests. We are also training farmers and other agriculture officers in how they can manage the fall armyworms,” Tsoka said.

Apart the government’s effort, other development partners such as the DfID and the European Union have also given Malawi 25,500 litres and 16,000 litres of cypermythrine, respectively.

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