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February 21, 2018

State told to declare pest a national disaster

Agriculture CS Willy Bett launching a programme to avert fall armyworm in a Kiminini farm Trans Nzoia county on April 7, 2017. /CORAZON WAFULA
Agriculture CS Willy Bett launching a programme to avert fall armyworm in a Kiminini farm Trans Nzoia county on April 7, 2017. /CORAZON WAFULA

Trans Nzoia farmers want the government to declare the Fall armyworm a national disaster.

County Agriculture chief officer Mary Nzomo yesterday said the pest will once again attack in the next season, which peaks in mid-March.

“Going by last year’s short rains and harvest assessment, maize losses could be more,” she said.

Farmers who planted during the short rains did not harvest, as their crops were completely ruined by the Fall armyworms, Nzomo said.

Read: Armyworm invasion poses threat to Embu maize farmers

“We’re afraid the damage could escalate in the long-rains season. The population of the pest has built up. We’ve not controlled it,” she said.

Nzomo said the national and county governments lack the capacity to control the pest. Declaring it a national disaster will help resource mobilisation so the problem is fixed, she said.

There is need to have a national intervention because every county has its own strategy, Nzomo urged. “We should have a harmonised intervention. This is a migratory pest,” she said.

But Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation director general Eliud Kireger said there is no cause for alarm as researchers are working on control measures.

Read: UNDP appeals for Sh10.6 billion to curb drought effects in northern Kenya

The Agriculture ministry says about Sh300 million was spent last year to control the pest, which had spread to Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Kericho, Nandi, Bomet, Narok, Bungoma, Busia, Siaya, Kisumu, Baringo, Nakuru, Kwale and Kiambu Counties.

The country lost six to seven million bags of maize to the pest. Trans Nzoia lost more than half-a-million 90kg bags from the anticipated harvest of 5.3 million bags.

Read: Nakuru farmers decry fall armyworm invasion, ask state to intervene

 

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