The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has said Malawians should not panic over fall armyworms which have affected crops in many parts of the country, saying they will not affect crop production.
But Farmers Union of Malawi (fum) president Alfred Kapichira-Banda has said it is too early for government to give that assurance.
In an interview on Friday, the ministry’s spokesperson Osborne Tsoka said there is no cause for alarm as the affected areas only represent about 16 percent of the total farming area, currently estimated at 1.7 million hectares.
He said the ministry is working tirelessly to contain the fall armyworms by providing equipment and chemicals to farmers.
“Malawians should not panic over the fall armyworms as the affected areas are very small compared to total agricultural areas.
“Currently, we are distributing new chemicals called Dysbane which is killing more worms than cypametharine which we were using last year,” said Tsoka.
In an interview on Saturday, Kapichira-Banda said farmers are worried by the situation.
“Our fear is that the country might experience food crisis this year due to combined negative effects of fall armyworms, floods and the dry spell that has hit some parts of the country. We, as farmers on the ground, are afraid because chances are very high that we could experience a crisis,” he said.
Last December, President Peter Mutharika declared fall armyworms a state of national disaster when about 35 000 hectares of maize were affected. The affected hectarage has since increased to 270 000.
The ministry has since bought 37 000 litres of insecticides to be distributed freely to farmers through their respective extension planning areas (EPAs) while donors have pledged an additional 35 000 litres. n