An agricultural research aimed at containing fall armyworms has been hit by financial challenges, a development that has seen stakeholders appealing for support of over K487million.
The research, being conducted by Livingstonia Synod Development Department in partnership with the University of Livingstonia, is running on a budget of about K90 million funded by the United Kingdom’s Tear Fund but part of the money is also being used to run a conservation agriculture project.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday after touring crop fields under the research at Mhuju in Rumphi, project coordinator Richard Sulu said the major setback is finances.
“There are some activities that we haven’t done because there are so many small things that are emerging in the research and we are failing to take them on board because of the budget line.
“We call on other donors who may wish to support the project in the tune of £500 000 [about K487 million] or any amount that they may provide to do so through the Synod of Livingstonia. But we are thankful to our donor Tear Fund UK,” he said.
Sulu said the research looks promising and farmers at Mhuju are already celebrating that they are able to contain the fall armyworms through measures that are being implemented.
One of the farmers, Watson Msowoya, said he has benefited from the research as he has been able to fight the pest and realise a bumper yield.
Principal group village head Ganje, in whose area the research is being conducted, hailed the research work, saying it has already started bearing fruits.
Lead researcher George Phiri said by the end of the research, the country should be able to contain the fall armyworm problem using biological means.
Last year, fall armyworms contributed to 30 percent of the damage in maize production.