Armyworms hit Kisii maize farms as pest spreads

Army worm attack: Some of the maize farms affected by Fall Army Warm invasion, at Kinyoro in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County on April 08, 2017. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG
Army worm attack: Some of the maize farms affected by Fall Army Warm invasion, at Kinyoro in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County on April 08, 2017. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG 

Farmers in Kisii are a worried lot following an invasion of armyworms and stalk borer in most sub-counties.

Mr Mulei Mutiso, county deputy agricultural director for crops, said the worm has been identified in six sub counties including Bonchari, Bomachoge Chache, Kitutu Chache North, Nyaribari Masaba, Bonchari and Nyaribari Chache.

“Since the worm attacks from the inside out, the farmers detect the pests when the crops are damaged beyond help,” he said.

Morris Marube, a farmer, said the worms had destroyed all of his maize crop.

He said he discovered the pest two weeks ago after a reported outbreak in Trans Nzoia. “I came to check on the crops the day after reports in the media indicated an infestation in some parts of the country. This is when I realised that my maize crops had been attacked as well,” said Mr Marube.

The farmer says he has not sprayed any insecticide on his farm because he did not have accurate information about the armyworms as well as due to financial constraints.

Mr Marube said the attack cost him about Sh75,000 in losses.

Vincent Sagwe, Kisii county Agriculture executive, said the worms are in the larval stage, the most destructive stage in their cycle and have so far attacked about 10 per cent of the county’s farms.

He said plans to procure pesticides for farmers in the county were underway.

Mr sagwe said has sought support of the national government to curb the armyworm.

“The situation is being treated as an emergency and the department has already identified pesticide vendors to supply us with the pesticide as we wait for the national government’s response,” Mr Sagwe said.

Mr Sagwe said they have sent out extension officers to the field to conduct prior training to affected farmers on how to use the pesticides as well as spread awareness about the pests.

He added that they have also deployed another batch field officers to the nine sub counties to monitor the spread armyworms on farms.

“The officers will also lay traps for the pests in farms to monitor the spread in the affected areas,” he said.

The agriculture executive added that the worms are likely to multiply the damage threefold considering the county is recovering from a dry spell that already affected farm products and now the remaining crop is facing danger from two types of pests.

He asked farmers to be vigilant of both the fall armyworm and the stalk borer as they exhibit similar characteristics as not to apply a pesticide that will further harm the crops.

“Both pests attack the plant’s interior that is soft and where growth occurs. Farmers should seek the aid of agricultural officers so as not apply a pesticide that may harm the crop,” said Mr Sagwe.

Mr Mutiso said farmers have been advised to use belt and tremor insecticides on their farms as they await pesticides from the ministry of agriculture.