The CCAP Synod of Livingstonia Development Department (Soldev) on Tuesday launched a fall armyworm research project on whether climate-smart agriculture techniques may reduce fall armyworms’ impact on maize.
Synod moderator the Reverend John Gondwe launched the project at Mhuju in Rumphi where Soldev, in partnership with University of Livingstonia (Unilia) and Lunyangwa Research Station, will be conducting an K80 million project for three years.
Speaking during the event, Gondwe said the synod was initially working in the area to empower farmers with new farming techniques that would help them harvest enough from a small piece of land.
“However, in the course of the project, farmers observed that fields under conservation agriculture were not attacked by the pest unlike other fields under conventional farming. These observations are what saw the birth of this research project,” he said.
Unilia lecturer in development and human rights studies, George Phiri, who is lead researcher in the project, emphasised the importance of accurate data collection and recording on the part of farmers.
“Accurate data leads to accurate conclusion of any research. This is why we trained the farmers on how to collect and record data from their farms. We need to analyse that data for us to be informed on what has happened and what to tell the nation about fall armyworms,” he said.
Rumphi district land resource conservation officer Boyd Msowoya said farmers should not rush to make conclusions that the hypothesis is true until the researchers disseminate their findings officially.
The fall armyworm outbreak has so far devastated 375 580 hectares of crops for one million farmers nationwide. In Rumphi, 35 percent of crops have been affected. n