Fall Armyworms and African Armyworms have damaged 15,664 hectares of maize crop belonging to 38,000 farming households in Mangochi District.
Mangochi District Agricultural Development Office Communication Officer, Fredrick Makiyi, Tuesday said initial assessment shows that the armyworms have affected all 11 Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) in the district.
The hardest hit EPAs, according to Makiyi, are Chilipa and Nankumba where the worms have damaged 5,892 hectares and 4,200 hectares of maize, respectively.
“The damage to the crops can be described as moderate and severe. In some cases, about 15 percent to 35 percent of the crop has been damaged by the armyworms,” he said.
However, Makiyi said the office received 880 litres of pesticides from the government to spray on the affected crops.
At the moment, Makiyi said about 279 litres have been used to spray the fields attacked by the armyworms.
He could, however, not confirm the current state of the crops, explaining that officers are conducting initial crop estimates to identify the possible help which the affected farmers require.
In addition to Nankumba and Chilipa EPAs, the Fall armyworms have damaged 1,350 and 1,673 hectares of maize crop in Maiwa and Lungwena EPAs.
Traditional Authority Nankumba was worried that some farmers might not be able to harvest enough food due to the damage by the worms.
“The problem is that the agriculture office did not quickly respond when the worms attacked the crops. By the time they came, most of the crop had been damaged,” he said.
Mangochi is among the districts which have been facing challenges with the armyworms.
This year, 75,000 households face acute food shortage due to, in part, the damage which the armyworms caused last farming season.