Blantyre, So far, 16,124 hectares of maize are reported to be under Fall Army Worms attack in the seven districts of Blantyre Agriculture Development Division (ADD).
Blantyre ADD’s Program Manager (PM), Martini Kausi told Malawi News Agency that his office had received reports of the Fall Army Worm attack, so the office has already started pesticide distribution.
We have already started distributing the recommended pesticides which is a total of 1791 litres to all the affected farmers in all the seven districts of Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, Neno, Mulanje, Phalombe and Thyolo, explained Kausi.
The program manager indicated that so far, the Fall Army Worms have affected 56, 341 farming households within the ADD.
The PM then indicated the Ministry of Agriculture’s frontline officers and lead farmers have been trained on Fall Army Worm timely identification and control as well as recommended pesticide application in an effort to manage the crisis.
One thing is for sure, the pest is here to stay but with good crop management skill and adherence to instructions by the farmers, the impact can be reduced,’ added Kausi.
He added that the ADD with support from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has set up funnel traps in various communities to help reduce the population of the pest.
These traps work by attracting the opposite sex of the pest whose scent have been embedded on the trap and once they are caught within the traps they are killed using pesticides, thereby controlling mating and population.
FAO’s Southern Region Resilience officer, Aubrey Sidiki said they had supported communities in Blantyre, Shire Valley and Machinga ADDs with 144 traps to control the Fall Army Worm.
We have set the traps in the previously identified African Army Worm hot spots where communities were already trained on how to monitor and use similar traps, explained Sidiki.
The FAO resilience officer also highlighted that the funnel traps enable communities to identify the level of risk in the area and inform them on the right combat approach.
Sidiki added that the community based Fall Army groups were encouraged to prioritize biological and cultural remedies before opting for pesticides.
Because chemicals are expensive and have side effects, we promote the use of best agricultural practices such as early planting, regular scouting, timely weeding and fertilizer application as well as use of other viable biological measures which are mostly inform of plant extracts such as Neem leaves, added Sidiki.
Source: Malawi News Agency MANA