State urged to invest in research on emerging pests

Agriculture CS Willy Bett launching a programme to avert fall armyworm yesterday in a Kiminini farm Trans Nzoia county on April 9,2017.Photo Corazon Wafula
Agriculture CS Willy Bett launching a programme to avert fall armyworm yesterday in a Kiminini farm Trans Nzoia county on April 9,2017.Photo Corazon Wafula

The government has been urged to invest in research on the emerging issues affecting farmers, including the army worm.

Dr Felistus Makini, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation deputy director, yesterday said more investment should be made in the area of pests and diseases to help farmers.

“Currently there are no control measures for the army worms except through spraying. But how many farmers can afford the chemicals? There is also the concern of how much of the chemicals are getting into the environment,” he said.

The army worm was first reported in Trans Nzoia county in March and it has since spread to Baringo, Bungoma, Busia, Kakamega, Kericho, Kwale, Nakuru, Nandi, Taita Taveta and Uasin Gishu.

Makini said there is need to have a more efficient monitoring system to prevent emerging pests and diseases.

“We need to build capacity for adequate monitoring and surveillance to ensure these pests and diseases do not spread to Kenya,” she said.

Makini spoke during a forum of African women in biosciences in Nairobi.

Dr Margaret Karembu, the director of ISAAA AfriCentre, said agricultural biotechnology is a tool farmers can use.

“As women scientists and researchers, we can relate to the problems farmers, especially women, go through and we feel we have the agriculture biotechnologies that can help farmers overcome these challenges,” she said