The cost of fighting the current fall of army worms whch destroyed the crops of nearly 140,000 farming families since the start of November has been estimated at K9 billion. And President Peter Mutharika has since declared the country a state of disaster and is seeking international help to contain the outbreak, as it is a major threat to Malawi’s food security.
Controller of Agriculture Extension and Technical Services (Caets), Albert Changaya told local media that the threat already looms so large that maize, sorghum and millet harvests could be affected.
“We already foresee that next year it will be disastrous because as at now about 20 districts have already been affected,” said Changaya.
The affected districts include Nsanje, Chikwawa, Mwanza, Neno, Phalombe, Chiradzulu, Blantyre, Thyolo, Mulanje, Zomba, Balaka, and Machinga in the Southern Region; Lilongwe West, Dedza and Ntcheu in the Central Region and Mzimba North, Rumphi, Nkhata Bay and Chitipa in the North.
Changaya noted that there is a knowledge gap in assessing the actual damage the army worms have done, but said the problems could be substantial since the mobile worms attack maize, sorghum and millet at different stages.
“We require about K9 billion to deal with this problem and, as government, we are looking at various ways and means the resources can e mobilized. The problem is compounded further because it is not only in Malawi, but the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha said development partners have promised to assist Malawi with monetary resources.
“The donors have promised to give us resources and, once that is done, we will prioritise purchase of all the needed chemicals that are found locally. As for the chemicals that are not locally available, we will have to airlift because the situation is urgent.”
56 082 litres of pesticides have been procured and distributed to Agriculture Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) where smallholder farmers are accessing them for spraying the infested fields.
And pheromone traps have also been procured in several districts to monitor the prevalence of the pest.
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