Farm Radio campaign reaches 1 million farmers

Farm Radio Trust says phase One of its Fall Army Worm participatory radio and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) campaign has managed to reach out to 1 million smallholder farmers across the country.

Radio Programming Specialist for the trust, Pauline Mbukwa, disclosed this on Thursday in an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) saying the campaign aims at increasing awareness of how to identify, control and manage Fall Armyworms.

The first phase started in May to July targeting Irrigation Fed Farming and it was in response to the outbreak that damaged approximately 140,000 hectares of crops. We used radio programs, SMS push ups, community information Hub for interactivity and monitoring, stakeholder engagement for message development and quality evidence based information as well as call centres,” she said.

Mbukwa added that the Farm Radio Trust intends to double the target in the second phase which will start in September to November targeting the rainy season with much emphasis on increasing knowledge of managing the worms.

We are going to collaborate with other farmer organisations so as to reach out to many farmers this coming growing season. We want to organisations like the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) considering that they have a wider base of farmers whom we want to reach out to with the fall armyworm messages,” the Specialist added.

According to Mbukwa, the campaign is being funded by USAID through Feed the Future Malawi Agriculture Diversification Activity.

The outbreak of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) in Malawi was first reported in Blantyre and Machinga Agriculture Development Divisions (ADDs) before spreading to Kasungu, Mzuzu and Karonga ADDs.

The outbreak was initially under-rated due to the confusion caused by the apparent resemblance in the feeding damage signs presented by infested plants to that caused by the maize stalk borer, according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

In May, the Ministry of Agriculture. Irrigation and Water Development launched the Fall Armyworm Sensitisation Campaign to address the problem of fall Armyworm outbreak.mbc