Zomba, Irrigation farmers in Zomba have expressed concern over the attack of Fall Army worms on their crops affecting approximately 143 hectares of land.
Malawi News Agency’s (MANA) random survey in four Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) of Malosa, Chingale, Thondwe and Masaula revealed that farmers are uprooting their maize just weeks after germination because of the worms.
MANA also established that some farmers are now vying for beans farming instead of maize as planned because of the pest.
According to one of the farmers from Mikundi Irrigation Scheme in Chingale EPA Dorica Mwalanga, this year’s maize irrigation farming has completely been affected by the Fall Army worms and farmers will not harvest any maize this season.
Farmers from our schemes have tried their best to spray two times per week using Cypermethrine which costs K2, 500 per 200ml bottle but no change has been observed, said Mwalanga.
The development has also brought fear among many farmers who have opted to abandon irrigation farming this year.
Zomba District Agricultural Development Office (DADO) confirmed the problem and assured farmers that the office is trying its best to put the problem to rest through various means.
In an interview with the District Crop Protection Officer McKinley Dupu, said the DADO noticed the Fall Army worms during the last growing rainy season from November 2016.
It is true that Zomba has been affected by Fall Army worms which mostly attack grass family crops such as maize, soya beans and fruits. We noticed this pest in November last year after affecting farmers who planted their maize late, said Dupu.
He added that his office has trained Agricultural Extension Development Officers (AEDOs) from all EPAs on how to use recommended pesticides.
As one way of trying to control the pests to avoid further spread in the coming growing season, government has purchased 200 Litres of Cypermethrine to be distributed to farmers in all EPAs. As of now, 76 litres have been distributed to farmers and 20.7 hectares have so far been sprayed by the recommended pesticides- Cypermethrine, said Dupu.
However, Mwalanga denied that farmers from Mikundi Irrigation Scheme received the said pesticides saying they are struggling for themselves to buy the pesticide.
She also complained that despite reporting about the pests to Chingale EPA, no AEDO has visited their area.
We feel like we don’t have agricultural extension workers here at Chingale because they don’t come to us despite informing them about the problems we are experiencing, she said.
Meanwhile, concerned farmers have asked government through the DADO to respond to the problem quickly to prevent the same problem from happening again in the next growing season.
Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA