Fall armyworms have affected fields of 33 948 farming households in Dedza, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development officials have confirmed.
Speaking in an interview on Monday, Dedza district crops officer John Malunga said 11 733 hectares of maize have been affected by the fall armyworms, raising food shortage fear in the 2017/2018 harvesting season.
“Dedza has a total cultivatable land of 229 462 hectares with 227 462.2 hectares under smallholder farming and 1 999.8 hectares under estates. Out of 75 211 hectares of maize, 11 733 have been affected by the pest,” he said.
The officer said so far, 7 201 hectares have been sprayed with pesticides supplied by government through Lilongwe Agricultural Development Division (ADD) and United Purpose.
Malunga said Dedza received 1 191 litres of pesticides and about 818 litres have been used by farmers. He observed that some famers are using usipa soup as one way of dealing with armyworm which is said to be working.
Preliminary projections indicate that the district’s maize production will be reduced by seven percent due to the dry spell and the fall armyworm.
“The district experienced dry spell from 26 December, 2017 to 12 January, 2018 in most parts and this has caused wilting of crops and increased outbreak of the fall armyworm,” he said. n