Armyworms ravage 8,000 acres of maize in Trans Nzoia

Army worm attack in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Army worm attack in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

At least 8,000 acres of maize in Trans Nzoia have been attacked by fall armyworms putting the country’s food security at risk.
The county is already grappling with an acute shortage of maize because of the recent drought hence the armyworms are set to worsen the situation.
The county is one of the country’s food baskets. According to County Agriculture Chief Officer Mary Nzomo, distribution of chemicals to farmers in a bid to contain the situation is underway.

“About 8,000 acres are affected by the pest. Although with heavy rains low temperatures lower the spread and multiplication of the worms, we are going on with spraying crops and we hope we will contain them,” Ms Nzomo said yesterday.

She said that a number of measures, including sensitising framers, have been put in place to fight the pest and ensure food security.

“Fighting the pest will continue because it attacks the maize crop at all stages up to bearing. We hope to contain it soon,” said the official.

Last month the county government set aside Sh45 million for chemicals to curb the spread of the ravenous pest.

The Council of Governors and national government on Tuesday announced a Sh600 million budget to fight the worm invasion, which has been reported in at least 13 counties.

“The Ministry of Agriculture will hold trainings for farmers on surveillance and community forecasting in order to apply control measures at an early stage and help to generate information through researches,” said a statement from the Council of Governors secretariat.

The fall armyworm, which is native to North and South America and has caused damage in southern Africa, has invaded a number of counties including Trans Nzoia, Kakamega and Bungoma where much of Kenya’s maize is grown.

In the neighbouring Uasin Gishu, the county’s chief officer in charge of agriculture, Dr Victoria Tarus, told the Business Daily that they had reported two new incidences in the recent past.

“About 600 acres have been affected but the onset of the long rains has helped to reduce the incidences. We have small patches at the moment,” she said.

She added that they were working with farmers to monitor new incidents. The county allocated Sh2 million to buying chemicals to control the spread of the pest