2,843 hectares of maize fields have been affected by Fall Army Worms in the district of Blantyre, officials have confirmed.
Blantyre District Agriculture Development Officer (DADO), Linda Mphande noted that the damage is slightly lower this year compared to last year.
Ministry of Agriculture and Water Development through the Blantyre Agriculture Development Division (ADD) provided the district office with 270 litres of pesticides which has since been distributed to all Extension Planning Areas (EPAs).
“These pest started last year and continued during the irrigation season and we anticipated that we would still have it during this rainy season. The damage this year is mild as it is scanty in the fields and this is probably because farmers are aware of the control measures both by use of pesticides and the biological ways,” Mphande said.
She said apart from distributing the pesticides, her office was currently conducting awareness campaigns and training farmers on how they could deal away with the worms.
Mphande has assured of total support so to ensure that, the Fall Army Worms do not cause excessive damage thereby reduce crop production.
“As government, as well as an office we are ready and on the look out to contain the pest,” she hinted.
The Agriculture Officer has appealed to farmers not to wait for government for assistance but develop possible means of containing the spread of the worms.
“We know that the pesticides being given by the government and non-governmental organization cannot meet the needs of all farmers. As such, we are appealing to those who have the capacity to buy the recommended pesticides such as Surban and Deltanex from farmer’s organizations and chemical outlets.
“Application of the pesticides should target the maize funnel where the pest hides. Farmers should further consult their extension workers,” Mphande explained.
Apart from the chemical pesticides, the Dado said farmers are encouraged to use local remedies like neem, one of the highly toxic concentrated tree plant.
Blantyre District has 56,000 hectares of arable land of which 44,806 hectares is for rain fed maize while 3,465hecters is for irrigated maize.