Mchinji District, which is one of the country’s leading maize producers, is forecasting a 16 percent yield loss in maize in the current farming season due to dry spells and the fall armyworm, which has decimated crop fields in many districts.
Mchinji falls under Kasungu Agriculture Division (ADD) and comprises seven extension planning areas (EPAs) covering 13 sub- and traditional authorities.
The district faced a dry spell from December 26 2017 to January 12 2018, a problem compounded by the fall armyworm, which has affected maize and beans in the district.
A report compiled by the Service Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and presented to Mchinji District full council indicates that the dry spell has destroyed 2,595 hectares of maize, affecting 9,671 farming households.
Chairperson of the committee, Councilor Dennis Lazaro, said 412 hectares of beans have been destroyed by the dry spell. “The district planted 95,156 hectares of maize, of which 1,150 hectares had been infested by armyworms while 5,518 hectares have been controlled, translating to 12,217 farmers that have been affected,” Lazaro said.
With the resumption of the rains from January 13 to February, the situation is back to normal, mostly for maize.
However, some losses will be expected in maize and bean crops according to Mchinji District agriculture officials.
District Agriculture Development Officer, Precious Chautsi, said his office managed to control 113 hectares of crops using pesticides from Kasungu Agricultural Development Division and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
“Since it is projected that the fall armyworm will be in the district for a while, our team is in the field to encourage farmers to use natural and physical ways of dealing with the army worms. They can use sand or physically kill the worms. They can also set traps to kill male moths,” Chautsi said.
Meanwhile, the Mchinji district service committee on agriculture and natural resources has recommended the intensification of awareness meetings through the community radio available in the district, lobbying stakeholders to support trainings or procurement of pesticides to help in the fall armyworm fight.
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