‘Hybrid varieties may control crop diseases’


As diseases and pests continue to ravage crops, stakeholders have started making efforts aimed at reaching out to farmers whose crops have been affected by a relatively new disease that is affecting maize, the country’s staple food.

The development follows reports that a disease, called maize lethal necrosis, has been affecting crops in some African countries. Some of the affected countries include Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the wake of such diseases, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, through the Department of agricultural Research Services (Dars), has introduced a new variety of maize which, officials say, will help Malawi deal with the challenge of some of the diseases that have been impacting agricultural productivity.


Speaking he visited stakeholders in Mzengereza Village, Traditional Authority Kaphuka, in Dedza District, Dars Senior Plant Pathologist, Johnny Masangwa, said the new crop varieties, which are yet to be given names, have shown resilience to a number of emerging diseases.

“When we, as Dars, heard that a new disease [maize lethal necrosis] was affecting crop production in some parts of Africa, we decided to come up with crop varieties that would be resistant to such diseases,” Masangwa said.

He added that some of the crop varieties have been tested in countries affected by maize lethal necrosis.


“For example, we have sent some of the yields [of the new crop varieties] to Kenya, where they have shown to be resilient,” he said.

Dedza District Crop Protection Officer, John Malunga, urged farmers to embrace new crop varieties in order to improve crop production.

Malunga further advised farmers to take heed of agriculture extension workers’ messages.

One of the farmers who have cultivated the new variety, Gloria Masache, said the crops yield more than the varieties she is used to cultivating.

Dars, through its Agriculture Productivity Programme for Southern Africa, has been experimenting with new crop varieties by ensuring that they are cultivated by farmers on trial basis. Some of the districts that have sampled it are Lilongwe, Dedza, Salima and Phalombe

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