Farmers panic as rainfall season begins


By Yohane Symon:

Some farmer s in the country have expressed fear over the possibility of a fall armyworm outbreak after the worm blighted last season’s agricultural output.

There is no proven pesticide for the fall armyworm, which originated from Brazil.


But the Ministry of Agriculture has said it is prepared for any outbreak.

Leonard Matewe, a Mangochi-based farmer from Mjesi Village, Traditional Authority Mponda, said he is not aware of efforts being made to control the fall armyworm, after his maize crop was ravaged by the pests last agricultural season.

“My maize was destroyed by the worms last year. I tried winter cropping but, again, the fall armyworm descended on my crops. At the moment, I do not have enough food for my family. My only worry is that there is no solution to crop infestation at the moment,” he said.


Another farmer, Phineous Banda from Gilbert Village in Salima District, said most farmers are not aware of any measures to control the fall armyworm, hence they are afraid of cultivating maize on vast pieces of land.

He said some of the farmers have been advised to kill the fall armyworm using soup from usipa or other types of fish.

“Others are being told to spread ash powder foam and other things but these substances have failed to kill the fall armyworm,” he said.

Linda Munthali from Makuni Village in Rumphi District said she will tread carefully during the 2018/19 agricultural season to avoid falling prey to the fall armyworm.

“Maybe I will experiment with other crops,” she said.

In the 2016-17 farming season, at least six million Malawians were rendered food insecure. The figure was halved in 2017/18 farming season.

But Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson, Osborn Tsoka, said Tuesday farmers should not panic because the ministry is prepared to respond to any possible threat from the fall armyworm.

Tsoka said the ministry has purchased 30,000 litres of pesticides and is in the process of procuring 40,000 litres of chemicals to deal with the fall armyworm.

“Interms of preparedness, we are ready. Apart from the chemicals, we are also training extension workers and farmers on how best they can deal with the fall armyworm this year,” Tsoka said.

He added that the ministry has sourced maize seeds which are dressed with some chemicals.

“The seeds will be planted on trial basis and, if they prove resistant to the fall armyworm, we will recommend them to farmers. We have discovered that the fall armyworm will be here for a while, such that we need to devise means of dealing with them,” Tsoka said.

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