Professor Mutharika has made the declaration following reports that the Fall Armyworms had affected a total of 20 out of 28 districts in the country, affecting thousands of hectares.
In a statement released by the Office of the Presidential Press Secretary, the Fall Armyworms are mostly attacking maize, sorghum and millet. According to the statement, Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and development partners, is implementing interventions to contain the spread and impact of the Fall Armyworm outbreak.
“Government, with support from development partners has also procured and installed pheromone traps in several districts to monitor the prevalence of the pest. Furthermore, Government has intensified the training of front-line staff, traditional, political and church leaders as well as farmers on identification and management of the pest. Government has also enhanced sensitization and awareness campaigns through extension channels and the media.
As a medium to long term strategy, Government has also commenced developing the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy in order to augment the chemical control that is being done currently and will further embark on further studies for better understanding of the biology and ecology of the pest as well as biological control of the pest,” reads the statement in part signed by Presidential Press Secretary Mgeme Kalilani.
The statement further says among other things, government has procured pesticides that are being distributed to Agriculture Extension Planning Areas-EPA’s where smallholder farmers are accessing them for spraying infected fields.
“In these circumstances, it is clear that we have a serious crop pest infestation that is posing a major threat to food security in the country likely to affect a majority of our fellow citizens. Since most of the areas are likely to be affected if the pest is not properly managed, additional resources are therefore required to implement interventions aimed at addressing further spread and management of the pest,” adds the statement.
However, the statement further says the current stocks of pesticides are inadequate to contain the situation as the cropping season progresses; hence there is need for more resources to procure additional pesticides. The statement concludes by giving an assurance from President Mutharika that Government will do all within its means to deal with the problem.