Farmers in Vihiga County have been advised to use traditional methods of farming in an effort to combat maize stalk borer disease.
Japheth Amutete, an agricultural consultant made the call when he addressed a group of maize famers at Luanda town on Monday.
According to Amutete, the outbreak of stalk borer disease was a threat to this year’s maize crop production in the entire county, a situation he said required combined efforts from all stakeholders.
Amutete decried high cost of pesticides underscoring the need to seek home-grown solutions to enable eradicate the disease.
“The cost of pesticides is extremely high, hence the need for local farmers to turn to traditional methods of dealing with pests that are ravaging our crops,” he observed.
He cited application of raw ash mixed with dust to affected maize crops as one of the most reliable traditional ways of suppressing the stalk borer disease.
“We should urge farmers to stop over relying on artificial pesticides whose cost has soared up and instead they start embracing traditional methods, which include applying dust and ash on the affected crops to minimize its spread,” he added.
The Stalk borer is a moth of noctuidae family, which feed on leaves in the whorl and then tunnel into the stalk.
It burrows into the base of the plant and tunnel up, through the centre of the stalk. The larvae are considered a pest of corn but also feed on various other large-stemmed plants.
Larvae hatch after about one week and they migrate first to the whorl where they feed on young and tender leaves deep inside the whorl.
According to a research by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the first generation of stalk borers occurs during the wet season, usually between April and July.
The second generation occurs in July but the majority of larvae diapauses from mid-September until the end of February during the dry season.
By Jaika Mathews