Armyworm has infected 50 pct of Malawi's planted maize

by Reuters
Thursday, 30 November 2017 15:23 GMT

Subsistence farmer work their field of maize after late rains near the capital Lilongwe, Malawi February 1, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

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Infestations of the pest have erupted across Africa

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Half of Malawi's maize has been infected by crop-munching armyworms, a senior government official said on Thursday.

The pest has infested 35,870 hectares, or 50.3 percent, of the planted irrigation maize by October, Albert Changaya, an official in Malawi's agricultural department told a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation meeting in Johannesburg.

"Last month the report that we got was about 50 percent...," said Changaya, who is responsible for technical services and agricultural expansion in the department.

Despite damage inflicted by armyworm, Malawi produced a bumper 2017 crop of around 3.2 million tonnes, paving the way for government to lift a two-year maize export ban.

Infestations of the pest have erupted across Africa including in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The pest has also been detected in the island nations of the Seychelles and Madagascar.

(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg, editing by David Evans)

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