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Worms, dry spell wipe out 580,000 hectares

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A report on estimated loss of maize due to Fall Armyworms and dry spell released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development projects that overall estimated loss of hectares is at 580,000.

Speaking to Malawi News yesterday, Ministry of Agriculture Spokesperson Osborne Tsoka said about 380,000 hectares have been affected with the Fall Armyworm.

“The dry spell has affected about 270,000 hectares while the Fall Armyworm has affected about 380,000 hectares. Severely attacked hectares accounts for about 40%, which is a loss of 73,000 metric tones of maize,” Tsoka said.

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Tsoka was quick to say the current figures are subject to change, either for the better or worse, in the event that rains come or not.

“The situation can change, that is why the ministry is still monitoring the situation on the ground. In a year, we harvest about 3.4 million metric tonnes and, out of that, in terms of the annual national requirement its around 3.2 million metric tonnes.

But we have not come up with the figures in third quarter,” he said. He could not disclose details on the strategies that government has put in place in preparation of the looming hunger.

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“On that I cannot say much but what is in the pipeline is that, for those areas that are already receiving rains, we are providing pre-maturing variety of maize and we are also considering provision of drought tolerant crops such as cassava and sweet potatoes. In areas where farmers have access to irrigable land, then they need to do irrigation. These are some of strategies that government has,” he said.

On Thursday last week, Minister of Agriculture Joseph Mwanamvekha admitted that the food situation looks gloomy as a result of the two national disasters that have befallen the country and left over three million people in need of food aid.

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