Fall armyworm attacks 206,000 hectares


The fall armyworm continues to wreak havoc in maize, millet and sorghum fields in the country, with latest figures showing that 206, 000 hectares of crops have been affected.
It is feared that, if the situation remains unattended to, the country may lose about 20 percent of the affected crops which will have a knock on annual harvest.
This came out during a press briefing the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development held in Lilongwe on Friday.
Controller of Agriculture Extension and Technical Services in the Ministry, Albert Changaya, said a team has been deployed to assess the total maize hectarage that has been affected to determine the possible impact on the staple’s harvest.
“We are afraid that the impact would be great if the situation is not controlled because the situation is moving from mild to severe in most of the affected areas. That is why we are appealing to all stakeholders and donor partners to help the government procure enough chemicals,” Changaya said.
He, however, indicated that the government has procured and is distributing 37,000 litres of pesticides to check the problem.
Changaya added that the ministry is exploring biological control measures where predator insects will be imported to eat up the fall armyworm.
“We are assuming that in the near future, we will find something that will help in the fight against the fall armyworm. Biological control has worked in Malawi and it has been quite effective, but it is a long term measure; it may take us two years to find these predators,” Changaya added.
The fall armyworm has struck 22 districts in the country, with Machinga and Blantyre being hit the most.

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