PHALOMBE-(MaraviPost)-Vicious false armyworms have reportedly destroyed 2,000 hectors of maize in nine districts across the nation in this year’s growing season, The Maravi Post, has learnt.
The pests have affected Chikwawa, Chirazuru, Balaka, Blantyre, Kasungu, Mangochi, Mulanje, Nsanje and Phalombe districts.
Farmers in the flood-prone southern district of Phalombe have expressed fears over poor harvests that they might experience due to the pests’ attack on their crops.
Group Village Headman (GHV) Maluwa, in Traditional Authority (T.A) Jenala in the district said that his subjects were curious as to where they would get extra maize seeds to replant.
Chief Maluwa disclosed that farmers that are most affected are those who planted early around November last year and are consequently in dire need of extra seeds to replant.
In a press statement released this week and signed by Erica Maganga, principal secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development confirmed the incidences of the pests attacking maize crops in some parts of the country.
Maganga observed that the false armyworms, as they are usually called among farmers, mostly like to eat funnel leaves of maize plant compared to the common African armyworms which like to eat the foliage of maize plants.
She warned that armyworms usually cause serious damage and total yields loss in maize if left uncontrolled. She then appealed to farmers to report any presence of the pests in their fields to agricultural officials for a quick response.
“This species of armyworms attack maize and other cereals by feeding on the growing crop. This type of armyworms differ from the usual African armyworm (spodom ptero exempta). It occurs in different shades of green, dark brown and black while the African armyworm is velvety black with a pole stripe on each side”, said Maganga.
False armyworms’ infestation in the field is noted by holes in funnel leaves and the interior of the growing maize plants.