Keep new armyworm attack under control


A maize crop attacked by the fall armyworm in Kisii County. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Ministry of Agriculture must move with speed to tame the new round of armyworm invasion.

Researchers found that two counties, Kakamega and Embu, have a high prevalence of Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) and Fall Armyworm (FAW), pests that have previously wreaked havoc on maize plantations.

Kenya is grappling with food insecurity following months of crop failures due to drought, hunger, and a shaky economy that has reduced farmers’ earnings.

An armyworm attack will put Kenya in a very precarious situation. Hundreds of millions of people will go hungry.

In 2013, the disease affected more than 26,000 hectares of maize valued at Sh2 billion.

Kenya should therefore embrace effective control practices to avoid further damage. Farmers should plant maize varieties that can withstand pests and embrace technology as one of the ways to fight these threats.

Scientists believe the fall armyworm arrived in Africa in a shipment of maize. Therefore, even as Kenya looks to import maize to relieve consumers of the high cost of the staple, controls must be put in place to ensure the shipments do not arrive with pests.