Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development officials have established that some farmers in the country are using uncertified chemicals and pesticides.
Speaking during a joint field day for Blantyre Agriculture Development Division (ADD), Bvumbwe Research Station and Mikolongwe Veterinary Station, controller of agriculture extension and technical services in the ministry Albert Changaya asked farmers to first seek guidance on which pesticides to use in their farms before using them.
“The uncertified chemicals have gone through tests and cannot be certified because of the danger they pose to human life. It is imperative that agro-dealers respect that,” he said.
Malawi is grappling with fall armyworms which have so far affected 270 000 hectares (ha) of maize and other crops in districts which President Peter Mutharika declared disaster areas last December.
The districts include Neno, Zomba, Nsanje, Chikwawa, Balaka, 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.
But despite the ministry providing a list of pesticides to deal with pests, most farmers are experimenting with pesticides, some of which are not meant for food items.
Commenting on the same, chief pesticides inspector for the Pesticides Control Board, Roderick Ndawala, said the board has put in place mechanisms which include confiscation of such pesticides from local markets.
“It is imperative that we join hands with the Malawi Police Service and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) in dealing with this challenge,” he said.
He further said while some are using the dangerous chemicals to fight fall armyworms, others are using them in vegetable gardens to treat fruits and get rid of insects in their homes.
The ministry said the recommended insecticides for fall armyworms include Steward 150 EC, Belt 480 SC, Proclaim Fit, Chlorpyrifos 480 EC, Decis Forte and Deltanex 25 EC. n