19 November 2017
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Wednesday, 09 August 2017 11:50

Govt intensifies studies to control fall armyworm

Written by  Idah Kazembe


Makumba speaks to the media

Blantyre, August 8, 2017: The department of agriculture and research services (DARS) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development says it is currently conducting studies to explore ways of controlling the adverse effect of fall armyworm on maize production.

Director of the department Dr. Wilkinsons Makumba on Monday told journalist in Lilongwe that currently the department is testing various chemicals that can be used to control the pest.

“So far we have identified at least 10 chemicals that are showing good effect on the pest,” Makumba said.

He also talked of plans to use biological measures through usage of predators as another way of controlling the pest’s damage.

Makumba hinted that the biological strategy is one of the viable ways which has been proven effective even in Brazil where the worms were first discovered some 40 years ago.

Realizing the various environmental degradation based problems that maize production face, Makumba said the department is also working on establishing disease and drought resistant maize varieties in order to beat the challenge.

He indicated that by employing viable scientific interventions, Malawi can still be food sufficient.
“For 40 years, fall armyworm has been in America but farmers have had enough food because they found ways of sustainable production even in the thick of the pest attack,” Makumba said.

Chief of party of Nation Alliance Policy Acceleration Support (NAPAS) Dr. Flora Nankhuni, whose institution has engaged the media through trainings on effective communication of agriculture issues since 2015, said a knowledgeable media is key in communicating agriculture science.

She said much as the media is doing all it can in communicating agriculture issues like the impact of fall armyworm, there is little in terms of exploring on research findings that are at the helm of increased production and resilience.

To address this communication gap and other challenges failing the agriculture sector, NAPAS with funding from USAID facilitated an interaction between media and scientists aimed at improving the process of trickling down relevant information to the common people.

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