Farmers in the Mount Kenya region have raised concern over an invasion of Fall Armyworms in their farms.
The worms which have left a trail of destruction have invaded farms in Tharaka Nithi and Murang’a Counties, adding to the list of the many regions that have been affected by the pest.
There seems to be no reprieve for the Fall Armyworm menace even as the government, stakeholders and research institutions strive to come up with a lasting solution to the deadly pest.
Having already spent 300 million shillings in mitigation efforts, Kenya is staring at a huge decline to maize production this year.
Tharaka Nithi and Murang’a Counties are the latest to report an invasion by Fall Armyworms, leaving farmers devastated.
Farmers in Muranga say unlike other pests which are dying off due to the rains, the Fall Armyworms seem to be fast mutating.
Desperate to save their crops, the farmers have resorted to filling maize stalks with soil which they say is the only way to prevent the worms from eating up the plant.
This is also the situation in Tharaka Nithi County where farmers are already counting losses and anticipating more damage. The fact that the worms are resistant to pesticides has done little to salvage the situation.
The county government of Tharaka Nithi is however working to put in place various measures including provision of stronger pesticides to farmers to help control the spread of the worm as well as dispatch of agricultural officers to provide technical assistance to farmers.
The International Center of Insect Physiology And Ecology is advising farmers to intercrop cereals with other crops such as legumes which drive away or deters stem-borers such as the Fall Armyworm from the target food crop.
The technology dabbed Push–Pull also recommends that farmers plant crops such as Napier grass around their farms to attract and trap the pest.
The Fall Armyworm invasion was first reported in the Western region of the country and later spread to Rift-Valley.