Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has warned that the country’s annual maize yield could drop by 20-25 per cent this year due to the invasion and the continued spread of the fall armyworm. Mr Bett said the government was worried about Kenya’s future food security as the pest continues to invade more maize farms in new regions across the country.
He said the invasive pest, which was previously reported only in western Kenya, has since crossed to Kwale in the coastal region and other areas, further complicating an already wobbly food security situation.”Our research has found out that this pest attacks farm at night because it is nocturnal. In that case, we call on farmers to spray their farms in the evening which is the time the pest come out to attack crops,” Mr Bett said.
He asked farmers to change their pest control regime so as to contain the spread of the worm. He also called on chemical manufacturers to consider huge discounts for smallholder farmers and step up fall armyworm awareness campaigns to educate farmers on what chemicals to be used and their application techniques.
We are open to those alternative methods and I think those are the only ways we can manage the pest,” said the CS. The worm, according to the UN agency Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is native to the Americas but no one knows how it exactly crossed the seas to Africa.
He said the ministry will decide on the continued importation of maize during the harvest months of October and November as accurate projections will then be possible to make.”Our harvests will start coming in from October or November going forward but now we are importing maize because of the drought, whose effects we are still experiencing, and fall armyworms which we are estimating will affect our productivity by 20 to 25 per cent,” he said.
He said the product would efficiently tackle the new pest and alleviate severe food shortage being experienced.”Since the outbreak of this pest in Kenya we have monitored the situation closely by putting agronomists on the ground. Belt has successfully been used by farmers in Brazil, South Africa and Zimbabwe,” said Mr Bureau.
Source: Business Daily