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North Rift steps up war on army worms

Agriculture minister Willy Bett (left) tours a maize farm affected by the fall arm worms in Kinyoro, Kitale last week. photo | jared nyataya
Agriculture minister Willy Bett (left) tours a maize farm affected by the fall arm worms in Kinyoro, Kitale last week. photo | jared nyataya 

Pesticides worth Sh2 million have been bought to combat the destructive fall army worms that have invaded hundreds of hectares of maize plantations in Uasin Gishu County.

County Agriculture executive Cyril Cheruiyot said the chemicals would be used to spray 1,600 acres of maize in Moiben and Soy where the outbreak had been reported.

“Agricultural extension officers have been dispatched to sensitise farmers on the right pesticide to apply to control the army worms,” he said.

The fall army worms have destroyed maize crop in Kitale, Bungoma, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Busia, Nandi, Kericho, Baringo and Nakuru.

“We expect the on-set of the rains will help to break the cycle of the fall army worms and cut down on the high costs incurred by farmers to fight the pests,” said Dr Cheruiyot adding that the  devolved unit would allocate more funds to combat the outbreak.

Cereal farmers in the North Rift region have expressed fears of heavy losses due to the pest attack that has led to increased cost of production and anticipated low yield.

“The infestation of this pest in maize plantations in this region signals a tough economic season for farmers since we has not anticipated it in our farming budgeting,” said Kenya National Farmers Federation Trans Nzoia branch chairman William Kimosong.

He said pesticides the Ministry of Agriculture has recommended were costly with the cheapest retailing at Sh20,000 a litre per acre.

Trans Nzoia has allocated Sh45 million to fight the pests, which risks wiping out more than 500 hectares of maize farm in the county.

“The funds will enable us to acquire the right chemicals to control the pests which have been spotted in farms in Endebess and Kiminini sub counties,” said governor Patrick Khaemba in Kitale.

Agriculture secretary Willy Bett last week led a team of experts to Trans Nzoia to assess the situation and sensitise farmers on preventive measures.

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