Challenges being faced in the use of Cypermetherin to combat the fall army worm have forced Malawi’s ministry of agriculture to find an alternative.
According to officials at the ministry, they are now using a chemical known as Dursban.
The worms which have wrecked havoc in some parts of the country have proved to be destructive if not dealt with a sense of urgency.
The switch is said to be due to the fact that the chemical Cypermethrin has become less effective in some areas.
Speaking at Kambwiri Sele Irrigation Scheme in Salima at the start of a five day media tour, George Lungu who is Principal Agriculture Officer in the ministry of Agriculture responsible for Crop Protection said Cypermethrin has become resistant for the two years it has been used.
The aim of the tour is to visit irrigation schemes which have been affected by the fall army worms in the districts of Salima, Balaka and Chikwawa.
"We have realised that Cypermethrin is now not working that is after some farmers reported that it's no longer having any impact in their farms, so ,as the ministry we have decided to change Cypmetherin to Dursban starting this farming season," Lungu explained.
Lungu went on further to say that the ministry has procured 10,000 litres of Dursban pesticide which will be distributed to farmers throughout the country.
The European Union also provided 16,000 litres of the pesticide to help eliminate the pests.
“As a ministry we think that this procurement is more than enough to address the problem we have at hand,"
“The new chemical will assist farmers even better, but just like Cypermetherin, we wil have to change it every two years as it will become resistant,” the principal secretary added.
One of the lead farmers at the scheme, Lezita Banda said that the fall army worm is now becoming difficult to manage as the current pesticide seems to not be working.
She said they have discovered other ways of dealing with the worm by using traditional medicine which have proven to be more effective.
The fall army worms have among other crops in Salima district destroyed maize, millet, rice, pepper and sugarcane.
The tour was organised by the ministry of agriculture with financial assistance from the Feed the Future's Strengthening Agriculture and Nutrition Extension (SANE) project.