Some farming families in the areas of traditional authorities (T/As) Nkalo and Ntchema in Chiradzulu are set to harvest less maize due to combined effects of an outbreak of fall armyworms and a dry spell.
In an interview with the Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Saturday, one of the farmers, Joel Kaulalo from Mwinjiro 1 Village, T/A Ntchema said though this was maize harvest time, farmers in his area would harvest nothing.
“We benefited from the Affordable Input Programme [AIP] and we had all the hopes that this year, we are going to harvest much as usual, but a dry spell and fall armyworms have affected us much,” he said.
Kaulalo said the District Agricultural Office assisted the farmers to control the fall army worms, but it did not work.
Farmers in the area are urging government and other organisations to find other means to deal with fall army worms in the coming season to reduce food insecurity.
Kaulalo and other smallholder farmers in his area used to harvest enough to keep them going, but this year the story is different.
He said: “I used to harvest 15 to 18 bags of maize which were enough to feed my family and I used to sell in order to buy basic necessities.”
Another farmer, Mphatso Sauso from Nkalo area, said if the agriculture office assists them with potato vines, cassava cuts and other crops, food shortage in the area will be minimised.
With low maize production, she said it would be difficult for her and fellow farmers to support their families.
“Business has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Sauso said.
Representative of T/A Ntchema, Wilson Saini, said farming families in the area need relief food to contain the impending hunger, adding that families need farm inputs in areas where irrigation farming was possible.
He asked government to provide them with potato vines for people to grow potatoes and encouraged people to do irrigation farming.
High maize production is expected among farmers in most parts of country following a successful implementation of AIP, according to a recent report by the Ministry of Agriculture.