Malawi and Zambia need to start sharing knowledge on how to contain the Fall Armyworm, a worm infestation that is devastating crops like maize in some countries in southern and eastern Africa, a Zambian official has said.
The call comes at a time when there is no permanent solution in sight to eliminate the worm that is into its second growing season in Malawi and elsewhere.
Speaking Friday during a day-long interdepartmental meeting between Malawi’s Chitipa and Zambia’s Isoka district councils at Isoka, District Agricultural Coordinator for Isoka Victor Siame said the two countries need to share notes for them to deal with worm completely.
“This outbreak has come to stay in our region. As such, we must collaborate in fighting against this pest by exchanging notes especially on chemicals and other biological measures that are used by both nations. Together, we can conduct a study for a best long-term strategy in eliminating the pest,” Siame said.
Chitipa District Agricultural Development Officer Malumbo Nyirongo said Malawi Government has already started implementing measures of dealing with the outbreak.
The Fall Armyworm has already affected over 130, 000 farming families since the onset of the 2017/2018 growing season in Malawi.
Nyirongo said the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development is currently distributing pesticides such as Cyperimethrin and Dursban to the Agricultural Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) for easy accessibility by the smallholder farmers.
He added that government is building capacity of farmers to be alert to the outbreak of the pest.
Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika recently declared a State of Disaster in 20 districts of Malawi affected by the Fall Armyworm.
The President called for more support from non- governmental organizations, private sector and all citizens of good will.
The interdepartmental meeting between Chitipa and Isoka District Councils also dwelled on the need for both Malawi and Zambia to find better ways of dealing with trans-border livestock diseases such as African swine fever, foot and mouth, as well as Lift Valley Fever.
During the gathering, it was observed that Isoka District has banned the killing and movement of pigs within and outside the district due to the outbreak of African swine fever.
The meeting was also attended by District Commissioners (DCs) for Chitipa Michael Chimbalanga and Isoka, Evenwell Mtambo.