Development arm of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia has said after three years of studying whether conservation agriculture could control spread of the fall armyworms, results of the research would be released next month.
The department’s Programme Manager, Lameck Kayira, said the study which was done in Mhuju Extension Planning Area in Rumphi District focused on the correlation between new agriculture technologies and fall the armyworm.
“The project is going towards meeting what the department anticipated, a position that will be confirmed by the researchers. These are from Lunyangwa Research Station and University of Livingstonia,” he said.
Presently discussions are still underway to have the study scaled up to other areas that is different from where the study was being conducted; Mhuju.
Lunyangwa Research Station Soil Department Agriculture Research Officer, Cornelius Chisambi, said they are compiling and analysing the data which they received from farmers to see if conservation agriculture controls fall armyworm.
“We are in the final year and we have just received the results for this year. So, we are comparing the hypothesis to see if there is correlation between conservation agriculture and the fall armyworms. For the past two years, it showed somehow that there is correlation. Then after that we will write a report,” he said.
Rumphi District Council Crops Officer, Patrick Lungu, said farmers observed that maize stalks decay also produced manure which helped in increasing production.
“The research originated from the farmers themselves because where they practiced conservation agriculture there was minimal attack on their maize by the fall armyworms,” he said.
At least 300 farmers in Mjuju EPA participated in the study.
The farmers hailed the conservation agriculture initiative as one of the best farming practices that do not only yield bumper harvest but also helps in dealing away with the fall armyworms.
One of the farmers, Florida Kasambara, said she harvested at least six bags of maize on a piece of land where she used to harvest around two bags or less.
“I now have enough to feed my family and this kind of farming is easy and cheaper,” she said.
The fall armyworms have devastated crops in most countries in Africa and Malawi has been hit since 2016. The invasion forced Malawi to declare 20 of the country’s 28 districts as disaster areas in 2017.