FOOD SECURITY

Armyworms invade, devour maize in Kilifi

Farmer express fears that if the pest won’t be controlled it would lead to food insecurity

In Summary

• In just two days, over 15 acres of maize have been wiped by the invasive fall army worm in Mwakuhenga.

• Farmer fears that if the pest won’t be controlled it will spread to other areas which would lead to food insecurity in the county.

Farmers weeding maize crops at Mwakuhenga on Friday.
WORM INVASION: Farmers weeding maize crops at Mwakuhenga on Friday.
Image: ELIAS YAA

Fall armyworms have invaded maize farms in Kilifi.

The first case of invasion was reported in Mwakuhenga village, Mnarani ward, Kilifi North,  on Thursday.

In two days, more than over 15 acres of maize have been wiped out by the invasive armyworm in Mwakuhenga. The maize was planted a week or two ago.

Farmer Kafedha Katana said 40 per cent of her maize has been eaten.

“I planted my maize a week ago. I have been monitoring their progress but two days ago I was shocked when I found the leaves had holes," she said.

"I saw at least four armyworms feeding on one of my maize plant."

Katana fears a 100 per cent loss of her crop if the government does not intervene.

“I planted two acres of maize but I am afraid I will remain destitute. My efforts are going to waste and I will have no food. The government should come to our rescue by providing pesticides,” she said.

Katana is trying to replace the destroyed maize and said she will even kill the worms with her hands.

“Without pesticides, they will also attack the new crops,” she said.

About a kilometre away, Mercy Mole found a pesticide that has killed the worms on her one acre of maize.

She said she had even applied fertiliser when she discovered the worms.

“I got a pesticide that has controlled them and my crops are doing well. But I am not safe yet because I am surrounded by farmers who have not sprayed their plants," she said.

"The pesticide only works upon contact with the armyworm. This means a new attack can cause havoc unless I spray again."

Mole said if the pest isn't be controlled it will spread to other areas, leading to food insecurity.

“The county should move with haste. Fall armyworms are very destructive and can wipe maize quickly. The more they grow the more they feed. They are more active in the morning and at night,” Mole said.

Khadija Hussein said her one acre of maize was wiped out by the worm. Only a few crops still remain standing.

(Edited by Tabnacha O)

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