About 240 hectares (ha) of maize have come under armyworm attack in various extension planning areas (EPAs) under the Machinga Agricultural Development Division (ADD).
Machinga ADD programme manager Gertrude Thaulo confirmed the development and urged farmers to immediately report armyworm outbreaks in their areas to the nearest agriculture office.
She said new cases have been reported at Ngwerero in Zomba where five hectares have been affected and Nankumba
the EPA in Mangochi where the number of hectares affected has risen from 16 to 101.
Said Thaulo: “We have enough chemicals to control the outbreak. What we need is farmers to alert us in good time so that we act fast and try to reduce the population of the moths [which lay eggs that hatch into the armyworms].”
She said the over 240 affected hectares include areas around Rivirivi in Balaka, Mpokwa in Zomba, Makanjira in Mangochi and Mbonekera in Machinga.
She said her office will try to quickly react to any reported outbreak and bring the situation under control.
Added Thaulo: “This should be no cause for alarm. We have sprayed all the affected gardens and the maize is okay. The only area that needs replanting are 35 hectares in Nankumba EPA because the attacked maize had already suffered drought.”
She attributed the spread to the dry spell that hit most parts in the districts, saying it created a conducive environment for the multiplication of the armyworms.
On Tuesday, Zomba district agriculture development officer (Dado), Patterson Kandoje, said his office was spraying cypermethrin in attacked fields to control the spread of the worms to other areas.
He, however, said some village heads were rejecting the chemical spraying exercise, claiming they could control the outbreak by traditional methods. He said this is misleading. n