Maize and sorghum farmers in Kisumu are staring at glaring losses this season after the African armyworms destroyed 60% of the crops.
Kisumu County Chief Officer in charge of agriculture Dr. Paul Omanga confirmed that the pests which have now been brought under control destroyed 10, 000 acres of the crops and pasture in the area.
The joint effort between the national and county governments to eradicate the pests, he said, has worked with the ongoing rains having also played a critical role in the fight.
“The heavy downpour washed away the armyworms making it difficult for them to reproduce even in their hideouts,” he said.
The pests, he said, were a threat to food security with farmers in the area expected to harvest just about 40% of the crop.
Speaking to KNA in his office, Omanga said the Japan International Cooperation Agency in collaboration with the county government distributed free seeds and fertilizer to the farmers to cushion them against the losses.
“We gave out plenty of seeds and fertilizer initially which we hope they had spared some to help them during this planting season,” he said.
As a long term measure to contain the menace Omanga asked farmers to prepare to counter the trans-boundary pests early enough to avert massive losses.
“The African armyworm is believed to manifest during the dry season as it is in this period that the migratory pests move in search of food and damage green land including crops,” he said.
According to Omanga the pests are very active and consume a lot during the larval stage where they need plenty of food for growth. They tend to attack and cause more distraction to young plants.
“Research shows that African armyworms consume crops especially in their early stage. It is at this stage that they cause the biggest damage,” he stated.
The chief officer asked farmers to ensure that they buy chemicals and store them in readiness for the possible invasion of the pests.
By Bernice Amuge