Published: 04 May 2018
Kenya National Discourse Forum (KNDF)’s General Secretary, Mr Laban Korelach has called on the Kenyan Government to quickly come to the aid of maize farmers following the invasion of maize farms by the fall armyworm.
Mr Laban sent this message at two days Farmers’ Workshop held at Cicada Hotel in Eldoret on April 12, 2018. He noted that Kenya could lose half of its maize crop and face a massive food crisis following an invasion by armyworms. Currently farms at the Coast, Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza are under threat the armyworms.
Despite the high speed of Armyworms spread, some maize farmers in South Rift areas of Kericho are turning to washing powder in a desperate bid to kill the dreaded Armyworm which has re-infested their maize farms.
This is despite lack of research to establish the effectiveness of the detergents against the worm and whether they have negative effects on consumers of the grain.
Mr. Samuel Sigei, a farmer at Kipsitet, Soin Sigowet sub-county, says he used four different pesticides but without success; he was advised to dilute Ariel powder soap and spray it on crop.
“I am seeing it working. The attack is minimal on my side compared to the neighbouring farms,” he said. He mixes 25 grammes of the detergent in 20 litres of water and sprays it on a one-acre farm.
Mr. Samuel says the experimentation was successful and effective “I took a bit of it, diluted it in some water, and dropped the worms in for about seven seconds. They died within seconds,” he said.
Regina Eddy coordinator of USAid task force on the threat said that up to 50 per cent of the maize crop could be destroyed. The pest also attacks millet, sorghum, cotton and sugarcane.
Mr. Joseph Rotich, the deputy Kericho county director in charge of crop production, however, asked farmers in the area not to panic as measures had been put in place to control the spread. He said the affected area was minimal compared to the total of 40,000 hectares under maize in the entire county.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture said it has sent technical teams to 42 counties to combat the pest. According to the director of Crop Research and Agribusiness in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Johnson Irungu, it is still early to predict the impact of fall army worm in the country.