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Crop diversification vital for countering fall army worms

District Agriculture Development Officer (DADO) for Balaka, Denis Zingen, has urged farmers in the district to practice crop diversification as well as inter cropping if they are to escape the devastating effects brought about by fall army worms.

The DADO’s remarks come amid fears from farmers in the district of a possible fall army worm outbreak similar to that which occurred in the 2016-2017 growing season.

The outbreak saw a lot of maize crop being destroyed by the fall army worms.

In an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Monday, Zingen said it was certain that farmers may experience the fall army worm again during the 2017-2018 growing season, taking into account that the life span of fall army worm eggs takes some time to be eradicated.

“We just have to accept that the problem has come but as a district, we have done a lot of sensitization to the community and the lead farmers.

“Moreover, our partners from United Purpose (formerly Concern Universal) have assisted us a lot by distributing fall army traps, protective gears and sprayers that farmers will use to spray their crops with chemicals once they note some fall army worms,” he said.

The agriculture officer urged farmers to engage in crop diversification so that if they lose their maize crop to fall army worms, they should be able to harvest other [types of] crops in their fields.

According to the DADO, government is yet to distribute chemicals to the farmers to use in spraying the fall army worms.

Meanwhile, Zingeni has urged farmers in the district to be on the lookout in their fields once they plant their crops so that they take note of any fall army worm signs.

During the 2016-2017 growing season, about 17,000 hectors of land in Balaka were affected by fall army worms.

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