Mzuzu Agriculture Development Division (ADD) crops officer Ulemu Tembo has said lack of knowledge among Irish potato farmers in Mzimba District is worrisome.
Speaking during a field day organised by International Potato Centre (CIP) in Mzimba on Tuesday, she said the situation was a health risk, especially where chemicals were used as post harvest storage technique.
Tembo said the farmers’ explanations and questions, showed that they needed training in agribusiness and crops handling.
“I have noted that there is gap in farm business management and storage techniques. I was listening attentively and all I could hear was chemicals, meaning they don’t know chemical-less storage techniques,” she said.
CIP potato specialist Obed John Mwenye said farmers carry storage pests from the field if they do not properly manage the crop.
“There is one common storage pest—the larvae, which penetrates the tubers and damage them while in storage. There is a butterfly which lays eggs on partially covered tubers. So, when a farmer harvests, they carry along the eggs which hatch in storage,” said Mwenye.
He said the solution was to cover the tubers completely so the butterfly has no breeding ground.
An Irish potato farmer, Fidelis Manda, said many farmers have transformed their families’ economic status through Irish potato farming.
A tour around the communities showed a lot of farmers have decent corrugated iron roofed houses.