Porcupines hit Rongai farmers grappling with armyworm

Maize crop affected by fall armyworm. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Maize crop affected by fall armyworm. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Farmers in Rongai sub-county are grappling with the menace of porcupines, which have been destroying their crops.

The farmers, who have also been victims of the fall armyworm attack, said the porcupine had added to their losses.

They have now been forced to put mesh wires on their farms as a way of keeping off the animals.

“They eat virtually all types of crops including maize, potatoes, cassava, bananas, suckers, yams and fruits. We have been incurring huge losses with no help,” said Priscilla Thumbi, a farmer.

She said last year she lost more than a third of yields on her two-acre farm to the destructive animal.

“We tried setting up traps to catch them but they did not work, they eat fruits, cut the crops at the stems and sometimes eat roots,” said the farmer.

Ms Thumbi said last year she lost 10 sacks of maize due to porcupine attacks.

The farmers told the Business Daily they had been forced to use wire mesh to protect their farms from porcupine attacks.

Daniel Kiprono, another farmer, said he had incurred major losses due to the pest.

“They’ve been attacking the crops both when they are young and during maturity,” he said.

More than 70,000 hectares of maize in Nakuru were lost to fall armyworm attack in last year, which accounted for 30per cent the general loss in the crop.

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, the amount of food Kenya lost to the pest last year was enough to feed Nakuru and Homa Bay counties for a year.