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Baringo army worm a threat to food security

Baringo County is grappling with armyworm infestation in Barwesa Ward, Baringo North Sub-county that is threatening food security, as drought continues to ravage the area.

Vincent Abuje, the County Director of Agriculture, speaking to KNA at his office in Kabarnet town, Baringo Central, confirmed that the migratory insects were spotted in a maize plantation in Barwesa Ward, by the area  agricultural extension officer.

Abuje said they have contacted the Plant Protection Department at the National Headquarters to provide them with chemicals to curb the spread of the armyworms.

“So far the armyworms have infested over 20 acres of maize plantation in the area and we are waiting for chemicals from the National Plant Protection Department,” Abuje said.

Lawrence Sammy, a Crop Development and Food Security Officer at the County Agriculture Office, told KNA the armyworms infestation will further affect food security in Baringo, as the area is also dealing with drought that is at an alarming state.

“We are hopeful that the rains will come before end of the month as this would go a long way in ensuring that the residents get food at the end of the planting season,” Sammy said.

Speaking to KNA on phone, Barwesa Agricultural Extension Officer, Abraham Kandie, confirmed that the armyworms infestation in maize and grass plantations had increased, since the first report on Sunday.

Kandie further noted that the armyworms feed on grass hence livestock will lack pasture to feed on if their spread is not contained in time.

“We have reported the infestation to the County Department of Agriculture and it is liaising with the Crop Protection Department at the national level, to send required insecticide,” Kandie said.

Kandie also noted with concern that there is a risk of further spread of the armyworms within the week, as drought in the area is a breeding ground for the armyworms.

Barwesa area Chief, Hosea Kipchumba, speaking to KNA on phone, said they are calling on the County Government to intervene immediately to reduce further losses.

“We have reported the matter to the agricultural extension officer and they have promised to act speedily,” Kipchumba said.

The County Director of Agriculture has asked residents to report any future infestation to area extension officers.

The African Armyworm travel in large groups hence the name ‘army’ and has a destruction rate of between 30 percent, to 40 percent on a farm. It feeds on every vegetation.

By Caroline Cherono

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