Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Fall armyworm attack needs drastic action


News that 25,700 hectares under irrigation farming have been attacked is a wake-up call to authorities that the fall armyworm problem Malawi has been experiencing since early 2016 is far from over.

We understand that the figures are less than the 138,344 hectares of crops under rain-fed agriculture which was attacked by the fall armyworms during the 2016/17 growing season.

While the figures are dwindling, it should be noted that the problem is still here in the country and if what happened in Brazil where the worms stayed for close to 20 years is anything to go by, then Malawians should brace themselves for tough times ahead, especially in so far as rain-fed agriculture is concerned.


To start with, the figures indicate the fall armyworms are thriving on rain-fed agriculture as compared to irrigation farming.

So, we expect authorities to encourage the type of farming which makes it more difficult for these pests to thrive; in this case irrigation farming.

Though this will not be the first time calls have been for Malawians to stop heavily relying on rain-fed agriculture, the calls are more necessary now in the wake of the fall armyworms.


We understand and appreciate the action taken by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development for trying to make available a chemical dursban with the aim of possibly eliminating the worms before the 2017/18 farming season begin.

But while this intervention is to be appreciated, we would like to bring to the ministry’s attention that the use of only one chemical has proved futile in some areas of the country.

Reports are rife that these worms become resistant to some chemicals, especially when only one particular chemical is being used.

There are also reports that the worms simply move out of the field in which the chemicals have been applied to another one where the chemicals are yet to be applied.

So, we would like to ask the government and other stakeholders to explore alternative ways of controlling or managing the worms.

For instance, farmers must be encouraged to practise crop and chemical rotation which has proved useful in some areas across the country.

This could at least complement the efficacy of dursban which we understand is still under trial to ascertain its effectiveness.

We would like to appreciate other efforts by the country’s development partners who have given Malawi 25,500 litres and 16,000 litres of cypermythrine to be applied in the affected maize fields.

We hope these efforts will help Malawi reduce and possibly end its fall armyworm attack.

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker