The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has issued an alert to all farmers and the general public that there are Armyworm (Fall Armyworm and African Armyworm) outbreaks reported in several districts.
A statement from the Ministry’s secretary, Gray Nyandule-Phiri, says these armyworm outbreaks are facilitated by the prevailing weather conditions in the country.
“Most parts of the country are experiencing weather conditions characterized by several rainy days followed by sunny days. This type of weather coupled with availability of green grass is very conducive to the growth and development of armyworms.
“These armyworms attack plants mostly in the grass family which include maize, sorghum, millet, rice and pasture. They are destructive and can cause severe crop losses if left uncontrolled.
“The Ministry is therefore advising all farmers to be on the look-out and be regularly inspecting fields looking for caterpillars on the underside of the cereal crop leaves or windowing effect for the African Armyworm.
On the other hand, the presence of scraped patches on leaves, young green caterpillars with big black heads, holes on leaves and presence of larvae in the whorl or the top middle part of the plant signifies an attack by Fall Armyworms.”
The Ministry then urges farmers to promptly report armyworm outbreaks or any suspected worms to the nearest Agricultural Office or Extension Workers within their communities.
“The Officers will provide advice on how to manage the pests and pesticides for the control of these armyworms. In addition, the Extension Workers are encouraged to be organizing the affected farmers into groups for proper pest management operations.
The Ministry advises all farmers and the general public that pesticides from Agricultural Offices and Extension Workers are not for sale and they should be given to farmers and farming communities for free.
“Farmers or communities are being encouraged to report to police if they are asked to pay for the free pesticides that government is giving to them to control the armyworms,” Nyandule-Phiri said.