Lilongwe — Japanese government has contributed K222.6 Million to support fighting against fall and African armyworms.
They contributed through project called "Strengthening, monitoring and early warning system for migratory pests of major food crops".
Japanese Ambassador to Malawi, Kae Yanagisawa made the contribution on Wednesday during the launch of the project in Lilongwe.
She said the intervention aims to strengthen the establishment and rolling out at national level of the fall armyworms early warning system and community based African armyworm surveillance system.
"The Project will build the capacity of 1,200 extension workers from Ministry of Agriculture and 600, 000 smallholder farmers to monitor, prepare for, and effectively respond to both armyworm outbreaks," Yanagisawa said.
She said the project would enhance integration of state-of the art surveillance and monitoring of both armyworms into national integrated pest management strategy, which is major tool for timely and effective management of these two major pests and for sustainably securing increased productivity.
The Ambassador pointed out that the project goal is to reduce threats to food and nutrition security due to outbreaks of both armyworms.
Chief Director for the Ministry, Dr. Yamira Ntupanyama said past three season's farmers have been hit hard by outbreaks of both armyworms.
"We usually experience outbreaks of fall and African armyworm almost every year through since 2017, there has not been significant outbreaks of the AAW," she said.
Ntupanyama added that fall armyworm is the major pest of maize during the rainy season and farmers irrigated crop seasons and farmers are using huge quantities of pesticides in maize production.
"Farmers are applying various pest control options with chemical control being widely used and dependency on pesticides is not a sustainable way of managing the problem.
"It requires huge amount of resources for purchase of pesticides and if not well managed, it can be a hazard to the farmers and the environment," she pointed out.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative in Malawi, Dr. Zhijun Chen said they have developed a mobile application system known as Fall Armyworm Monitoring and Early Warning System (FAMWES) which would be rolled out to all the districts through this project.
"This application is used when farmers are scouting in the field to generate infestation levels automatically and apply management solutions depending on the action thresholds," he said.
Chen added that the information generated could the hot spot areas by looking at the fall armyworm risk maps.
The outbreak has affected more than 375,000 hectares of maize depriving opportunity of bumper brought by favourable weather.
The implementation period is one year from March 31, 2019 to March 30, 2020.
FAO in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development will implement the project.