14 maize growing counties to benefit from traps, tracking devices

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Armyworms eat maize leaves in Ngong township, KenyaFILE PHOTO: Army worms eat maize leaves as they attack a maize garden in Ngong township, Kenya, May 9, 1999. REUTERS/George Mulala/File Photo
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Fourteen maize growing counties are set to benefit from an ongoing purchase of fall armyworm traps and tracking devices by the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO.

Country Director Dr. Gabriel Rugalema says the control of fall armyworms was possible as long as all affected countries develop and maintain a robust surveillance system at the farm level.

Last year alone, maize farmers in the country lost over one million bags, worth 3 billion shillings to the infestation of the fall armyworm, with experts fearing that more losses are imminent this year if the pest is not adequately dealt with.

And as the country gears up for the planting season, the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, is building capacity of extension officers drawn from 14 maize growing counties in Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western in combating the pest as a way of forestalling losses.

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FAO is in the process of purchasing fall armyworm traps and tracking devices for maize growing counties to scale up surveillance of the pest.

Extension officers are expected to champion surveillance and information exchange with officials in neighboring Counties as a sustainable and practical strategy of controlling the pest.

Scientists have attributed the spread of the fall armyworm to climate change and have intensified calls for coordinated research programs on practical response mechanisms.

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