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Crops for over 23,000 households destroyed

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Crops for over 23,000 households in Salima and Mzimba have been destroyed by armyworms and other pests. The government has no chemicals ready to fight the pests which continue destroying crops in other parts of the country.

Mzimba is one of the districts that have been greatly affected by the outbreak, with most of the farmers having fears of facing hunger.

Mzimba District Agriculture Officer, Julius Banda said the district has so far had 20,000 hectares of maize crop destroyed. He said this during a media tour organised by Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) over the weekend.

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“It [destruction of maize crop] was first reported around early January in Khosolo then later in Emfeni. It was reported as an outbreak of armyworms but when the district team visited the areas it was noticed that it was not just armyworms as reported by the field officers. The attack [on the maize crop] was similar to that by stalk borer but the unique part of it was the extent of the damage it caused,’’ he said.

Banda has since called for chemicals to support the affected farmers.

“The pests attack maize in the crops infancy up to late stages. The pests attack leaves as the maize is growing and later the cobs. We only managed to distribute chemicals to spray around 200 hectares that is reaching to more than 150 farmers. We need more resources to facilitate farmer trainings on the outbreak,” he said.

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In Salima, 2271 hectares of maize have been affected according to the Districts Agricultural Crops Officer, Jayaka Kipandula.

“Eighty percent of the damage is moderate and 20 percent is severe from the total hectares affected. Most of the maize that has been greatly affected was planted late. These armyworms are destroying leaves and grain. Farmers affected severely will unlikely yield anything,” he said.

Cisanet National Coordinator, Tamani Nkhono-Mvula, has since said it is sad that the government is not doing enough to eradicate the problem despite numerous cautions from the civil society for the government to guard and prepare for the armyworms.

“When reports of armyworms were reported in Zambia, we cautioned the government to be on guard because we knew this problem may also come to Malawi. We were told that people should not panic because the situation was under control. It is therefore disheartening that over 20,000 hectares of maize have been destroyed in Mzimba alone,” Mvula said.

According to Nkhono- Mvula, the government should allocate resources using the money that was meant for winter cropping in the national budget to fight the pest.

Earlier, Principal Secretary for Agriculture, Erica Maganga, said her ministry is supplying some farmers with cypermethrin to apply in their maize filed. However her ministry is not coming forth with the hectares that have been affected.

Chikwawa, Kasungu and Mangochi have also been affected.

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