Irrigation farmers in Mangochi have appealed to authorities to identify pesticides that can eradicate the fall armyworms and other pests that are now attacking winter crops such as maize, tomato and sweet potatoes.
Farmers fear that with the development, their harvest might not be enough during this winter, which could likely affect their income and food availability for the forthcoming year.
A visit to the areas of Malombe in Traditional Authority Chowe and Mnenje in TA Makanjira showed that farmers are desperate to find a chemical for the armyworms.
Some of the farmers have abandoned winter farming altogether.
Patuma Alifa, a farmer and chairperson for Mnenje irrigation scheme in Makanjira, said farmers are concerned with the attacks on their crops and urged authorities to intervene.
“We don’t know what to do. The armyworms attacked our crops during the rainy season and we hope it will not happen with the winter crops. However, we are very worried because it is now clear that we will not have enough food because the maize is failing grow once it is attacked,” she said.
She explained that efforts by farmers to apply the recommended chemicals are not yielding any result, hence she appealed to the government to find a new formula that can help save their crops.
Agriculture Extension Development Coordinator for Mpiripiri Extension Planning Area Jana Phiri acknowledged that his area is facing a big challenge with the worms.
But he was quick to explain that the Ministry of Agriculture is aware of the problem.
Phiri said the worms have become a national problem such that the ministry is doing all it can to find the best chemical for the worms so that farmers can realise their farming potential for the winter crops.
“At the moment there is some evidence that the worms can best be killed by chemicals during the late afternoon hours. This has been discovered by some farmers who claim that the worms become active during the night. So we want to establish this and if it is true, we will inform our farmers to adopt this formula,” Phiri said.
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