They have told Zodiak Online that government should have deployed aero planes to spray in the affected fields as opposed to the distribution of chemicals to farmers who are apparently struggling to contain the situation.
“During Kamuzu, era we had aero planes that were used to spray pesticides to kill tsetse flies in game reserves; so I think it can be proper to use the aero planes in spraying chemicals in the affected crop fields rather than distributing very smaller quantities of chemicals to farmers.
“Imagine giving farmers one liter of chemicals, what impact can it have on the smallholder farmer? Using aero planes can help to cover a big area,” lamented a concerned citizen who opted for anonymity.
Another concerned citizen said government could have been proactive and plan ahead as the problem has been there for some time.
Ministry of Agriculture Spokesperson, Priscilla Mateyu, said much as the idea is viable, it is expensive; adding that the current efforts have made a difference.
“At the moment we have managed to reach all the land that has been affected by the fall armyworms with the officers as well as the farmers themselves.
“The current set up where we are distributing chemicals to farmers through our agricultural offices to us is effective and efficient because at the moment we have managed to spray all the 144, 000 land that has been affected,” she said.
“The other thing that has helped us a lot is the rainfall pattern as we have been receiving rains consistently. It helps as the fall armyworms die due to suffocation,” she added.
The Ministry of Agriculture Spokesperson was however quick to say it is too early to say the fall armyworms will affect the country’s food security, saying this will be known after proper projections early January.
An Agricultural Expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula says it is the duty of government to assist the affected farmers.
“It is indeed very advisable for the farmers whose crop has been destroyed beyond recovery to replant as the season has just started and there is a high likelihood for them to have a normal harvest come March or early April.
“This arrangement may also help to break the cycle of most of the worms as the diseased crop will be destroyed.
“However as a duty bearer, government should do all it can to ensure that such households are assisted. If it is not able, it must make an appeal to NGOs, UN bodies and other donors for assistance,” said Mvula.
“There are countries in south America like Brazil that have had this challenge for a while. Let’s learn from them how they are dealing with it,” he said.