President Peter Mutharika has declared 20 districts that were affected by the outbreak of the fall army worms, which has affected 133 083 farming families, as disaster areas.
In a statement released by press secretary and presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani, Mutharika says government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, and development partners are implementing numerous interventions to contain the spread and impact of the outbreak.
Mutharika says 56 082 litres of pesticides has been procured and distributed to Agriculture Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) where smallholder farmers are accessing them for spraying the infested fields.
Besides, Mutharika says his government with support from development partners, has also procured pheromone traps in several districts to monitor the prevalence of the pest, and it has also intensified training of front-line staff, traditional, political and church leaders as well as farmers on identification and management of the pest.
“As a medium to long-term strategy, government has also commenced developing the Integrated Pest Management [IPM] strategy to augment the chemical control that is being done currently and will further embark on further studies for better understanding of the biology and ecology of the pest as well biological control of the pest,” reads part of the statement.
Mutharika, who has assured Malawians that his government will do all it can to contain the situation, has emphasized that additional resources will be required to implement interventions aimed at addressing further spread and management of the pest, since most areas are likely to be affected if the pest is not properly managed. Government plans to procure 400 000 litres of pesticides that will be distributed to farmers.
The fall army worm outbreak came into the limelight early this year and is believed to have originated from neighbouring Zambia.