• State will not subsidise pesticides or compensate farmers who have been affected
• But it has dropped 16 per cent VAT on the products to make them affordable
The government has set aside Sh585 million this year to fight the fall army worm.
Agriculture CAS Andrew Tuimur said the pest has been reported in 43 counties but effect has not been as bad as last year.
“The pest was first reported in Western region in March 2017 and since then it has been reported in 43 counties. Only Marsabit, Wajir and Garissa counties have not been affected by the pest,” Tuimur said.
He said the fact that the army worm can travel up to 100km per night has led to the wide spread of the pest since 2017 when it was only reported in 23 counties.
But farmers have been unable to access pesticides due to a delay in purchasing the products.
Tuimur told the Senate committee on agriculture on Wednesday there was a delay in procurement of pesticides and equipment to support farmers to control the pest this year.
"The process is now being concluded and the materials will be distributed to farmers,” he said.
He said the state will not subsidise the pesticides or compensate farmers who have been affected.
The government has instead removed 16 per cent VAT on the products in the 2019-2020 budget in order to assist farmers to buy them at a cheaper price.
“We have also made available pest control demonstration materials and registered five products with the Pest Control Products Board with varying prices. We are creating awareness to farmers to use an integrated approach on pest management which will reduce the use of pesticides given that overreliance wouldrapidly result in resistance,” Tuimur said.
The CAS said because the pest is widespread in the country, compensation would not be feasible.
Tuimur said the ministry piloted a community-based early warning system using a mobile app in Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Nakuru and Bomet last year with support from USAID.
This year, the ministry is upscaling the activities in Kiambu, Tharaka Nithi, Makueni, Kilifi and Siaya.
Embu Senator Njeru Ngiwa who chairs the Senate agriculture committee emphasized the need to strengthen extension services.
“All the research findings and mitigation efforts being done by the national and county governments towards the control of the pest will only help if there is an effective extension service system,” he said.