MALAWI: ARMY WORMS/NYASA TIMES/24/1/18 SABANews 1
BALAKA – The opposition UNITED DEMOCRATIC FRONT Member of Parliament for BALAKA NORTH Constituency in the SOUTHERN REGION of MALAWI has urged the government to find a lasting solution to the problem of Fall Army Worms.
The NYASA TIMES newspaper says LUCIUS BANDA has visited some of the farmers who have been heavily affected by the notorious caterpillars, which he says keep on destroying thousands of hectares of maize across the country every year.
It says his comments come amid reports saying the Fall Army Worms have ravaged 270-THOUSAND hectares while drought has affected 12 percent of the ONE-POINT-SEVEN-MILLION hectares of maize planted.
Mr BANDA says the country has had this tragedy of Fall Army Worms almost every year, and it is high time the authorities come up with a lasting solution by making the pesticides are always available to farmers.
He says all farmers should try as much as possible and at all times to spray their fields after planting and before the crops are attacked, which should be a tradition the way people always do with fertilizer every year.
BALAKA District Commissioner RODRICK MATEAUMA says Fall Army Worms have destroyed more than 19-THOUSAND hectares of maize in the area, raising strong fears of hunger just like in the previous growing season.
Meanwhile, the TIMES says Mr BANDA has already sent an S.O.S to the government to include in its plans to help the people of BALAKA with relief food items.
He says it is already JANUARY, and there is nothing farmers can do in their affected fields; which means they will be severely hit by hunger, and he is appealing to the authorities to start preparations now to save the people.
The combined effects of Fall Army Worms and drought threaten food production and the economic growth targets in the agro-based economy of MALAWI, with the contribution of agriculture to the GDP pegged at least 30 percent./Sabanews/cam