Kenyan scientists and are calling on policymakers to upscale production of biological pest control measures to combat fall armyworm which continues to threaten the country’s food security efforts.
Through the Ksh 240 million Korea Africa Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (KAFACI) funded by the Korean government, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Institute (KALRO) has developed Integrated Pest Management (IPM) solutions which have helped farmers improve their yields and improve their income.
The invasion of fall armyworms often during planting season has been a thorn in the flesh, not only for maize farmers across the country, but has also hurt efforts to secure the country’s food reserves.
According KALRO, insufficient biological means to control the fall armyworms has seen farmers resort to use of harmful pesticides which degrade the soil and affect crops a factor which is attributed to up to 50pc drop in yields.
Under the five years KAFACI project which is scheduled to end next year, Kenya as part of 16 beneficiary countries has managed to secure Ksh 15 million to develop biological control measures that if adopted by farmers, will help improve yields and protect the environment.
Through the project, researchers have been able to produce biological pest control mechanisms which farmers can use as well as encourage use of intercropping which have proven effective against fall armyworm and has seen farmers recruited in the demonstration, more than double their harvest
So far 60 farmers have been trained on the best practices to combat fall army worms in Kenya.
KALRO is now targeting to have the practices adopted by counties in their extension services to improve maize production in the country.