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Government moves to tame africa armyworms

The Government has put in place measures to control and manage the outbreak of deadly Africa armyworms in the Country.

The invasion reported in 33 counties has seen over 500, 000 acres of crop and pasture destroyed, posing a threat to food security.

State Department for Crops Development and Research Principal Secretary (PS), Dr. Francis Owino, said through the recently launched Strategic Plan on Management of Trans-Boundary pests, the government was on top of things to tame the invasion.

Through partnerships with the county governments, Agro-Chemicals Association of Kenya and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), he said, measures have been put in place to contain the situation.

Speaking in Kisumu during the retooling for consultants, County Commissioners, County Executive Committee Members and Crops Officers from the affected counties on cross-boundary pests, Dr. Owino said the rapid response mechanism put in place by the government, was key in curbing further spread of the armyworms.

The retooling of the consultants who managed the recent locust invasion in the country, he added, was a major milestone in equipping them with the necessary skills and tools to manage the invasion.

“From the deliberations and training from experts, I want to confirm to the nation that this menace is under control and we are looking forward to eradicating it as soon as humanly possible,” declared Owino.

The Cross Border Pests Management Strategy launched in February this year, he added, provides a broad approach to management of the pests which not only cause negative economic effects, but threaten the country’s food security.

The Strategy, he added, covers locusts, quail birds and the Africa armyworms, to enable all the actors involved to respond swiftly whenever an outbreak is reported. “This armyworm invasion now presents us with an opportunity to test this strategy, by putting all the measures into practice,” he said.

Kisumu County Executive Committee (CEC) Member-In-Charge of Agriculture, Gilchrist Okuom, said the invasion was a blow to farmers who have recorded massive losses due to crop failure.

“We want to assure our farmers as a region that all is not lost. We are optimistic that we will win this war against the armyworms and produce enough food for both consumption and sale. There is no need for panic,” he assured.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative, George Ong’amo, said capacity building was key in scaling-up efforts to contain the invasion.

“Based on the experiences we had with desert locust management, we felt it was necessary to begin with capacity building. Reporting on information originated from the field using the right tools, is the primary way of dealing with these insects,” he said.

FAO, he added, will continue to support the government in dealing with trans-border pests, to boost food security.

Agro-chemicals Association of Kenya (AAK), Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Erick Kimungui, called for awareness creation, to give impetus to the fight against the armyworms.

AAK, he disclosed, has trained over 1, 000 youths on motorized crop spraying, to aid in the efforts by government and other stakeholders to combat the pests.

By Peter K’opiyo and Joseph Otieno

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