By Vincent Khonje
The use of integrated pest management (IPM) rather than chemical pesticides is said to be working in managing fall army worms (FAW) in Kasungu.
During a field day organized by Ministry of Agriculture through the department of agriculture extension services with support from FAO, farmers from Chulu Extension Planning Area (EPA) told Deputy Minister of Agriculture Agnes Nkusa Nkhoma that the use of IPM in dealing with FAW has proved effective.
Blessings Gama, a farmer field school (FFS) chairperson, farmers in the area said the use of pesticides proves challenging thereby opting to try different IPM options.
“Pesticides, apart from being expensive they pose a dangers to the lives of farmers and usually FAW become used to them. We are therefore assessing botanicals that are locally available to manage FAW,” said Gama.
The farmers in Chulu EPA, apart from physical crushing with hands, they are using Khodza scientifically known as Clerodendrum uncinatum and Muwawani also known as Cassia abbrevita whose leaves are soaked in water which is applied to maize.
The same IPM is also being assessed at Lisasadzi Residential Training Centre where farmers are using Mndundu (Baphia massaiensis) and Dema (Neorautanenia mitis).
The other IPM which is used is planting maize together with desmodium which repels FAW and napier grass which attracts FAW but prevents larva development.
Commenting on the development, Nkusa Nkhoma said what farmers are doing is commendable because farmers use a lot of pesticides which usually are harmful to humans.
“FAW is a big problem to farmers and these other options are just plants and despite bitter are not harmful to humans and other small useful insects, so we recommend them,” said Nkusa Nkhoma.
Thomas Ameny FAO’s FFS expert said the field day was a chance to interact with stakeholders and share the studies that farmers are working on.
“This field day focused on what options we have in managing FAW which has devastated our maize since 2017. Together with the farming communities there are now options that are sustainable and less hazardous to deal with FAW,” said Ameny.
Under EU Kulima programme, there are several studies being conducted by FFS comprising of 25 to 30 farmers taking an approach of learning by doing principles which in consideration innovations and indigenous knowledge.