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Farmers use Neem to defeat armyworms

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Farmers in Chikwawa and Mangochi districts have resolved to apply their traditional and physical ways of dealing with the fall armyworms that are damaging crops in the fields, posing a food insecurity threat among most households.

Already, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (Fao) has warned that the armyworms are a threat to food security in sub-Saharan Africa where over 40 million people are food insecure.

Chikwawa District Council Chairperson, Councillor Collex Nankumba, said yesterday in an interview that the armyworms are destroying crops at an alarming rate. He said the situation is putting people at risk of another hunger after succumbing to drought and dry spells in the previous two growing seasons.

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He said the situation has prompted people to apply Neem in their gardens to control the situation but nothing is changing.

“The situation here is pathetic, we thought with the good rains, people will harvest enough but we are let down by the armyworms. They are destroying and live in the maize stocks, as such even if we apply chemicals, the worms are still surviving and continue destroying crops. Some extension workers advised that we should be using Neem but that too is not helping,” Nakhumba said.

He also said that government supplied some farmers with chemicals but the situation is continuing as many did not receive.

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In Mangochi, the situation is as same as in Chikwawa, especially in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Nankumba where we visited.

Chairperson of the disaster and relief committee from Village Headman Mauzu in TA Nankumba’s area, Prince Kamanga, said the farmers are advised to manually kill the worms from their fields.

“Government is not providing us with chemicals and a lot of people in this area cannot access chemicals on their own. So, we are advising them to be searching for the worms in their gardens and crush them with their hands as a control measure. Almost half of the fields are affected,” he said.

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

On the other hand, Fao has doubted the effectiveness of pesticides, saying fall armyworms have developed resistance in their American habitats.

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