12 December 2017
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Sunday, 26 November 2017 14:14

Ministry of Agriculture ready to contain Fall Army Worm outbreak

Written by  Charles Mphwere

Blantyre, November 25, 2017: The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has assured farmers in the country it is fully prepared to contain any outbreak of Fall Army Worm if it resurfaces this growing season.

The ministry’s Public Relations Officer, Osborne Tsoka, said in an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) the ministry is trying to be cautious since the country had such an outbreak last growing season.

“We cannot say we will have an outbreak of fall army worm this growing season, but because we had an outbreak last season, the chances are there that we may have the outbreak this season. As government, we need to manage the situation so that crops should not be destroyed,” he said.

“As a ministry, we are already prepared. We have trained the farmers as well as staff members on how to manage the attack of fall army worm as regards to how to apply the chemicals,” he said.

“We have also bought the chemicals so that in an event of an outbreak, we should be able to contain it.

“For your information, the chemicals have already been distributed in all extension planning areas to ensure that they are within the reach of farmers,” he added.

Tsoka said the ministry has also embarked on a research in trying to find the natural predator of the fall army worm.

“We have gone beyond in terms of long term programming such as seed-tracing to see if seeds that have been treated with chemicals are able to stand the fall army worm attack,” he said.

Tsoka further said the ministry has put in place traps for fall army worms to establish the population of the worms within the communities.

“These will give us counts and if the counts are many, it means it is very likely that we will have an attack of fall army worms,” he said.

Last year, outbreak of the pest affected 138,334 hectares of agricultural fields across the country and at least six hundred farmers were affected.

Meanwhile, the ministry is urging farmers to use Cypermethrine as the recommended chemical against the worms and to report any trace of fall army worms.

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