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Trans Nzoia forms teams for Army worm surveillance

The Trans Nzoia County Government has formed scouting teams that will help farmers detect fall army worms and locusts for intervention in good time.

This comes as farmers embark on planting amid jitters of erratic rains in the region that is the country’s breadbasket though also home to fall army worms.

Addressing farmers on Friday, during the distribution of subsidized fertilizers to underprivileged residents in Kitale town, the County Chief Officer, Agriculture, Robert Musikoyo, said that fall army worm has been a challenge to maize farming in Trans Nzoia and thus the need to have compartment scouting teams for early detection.

The Chief Officers said that the teams will be spreading across the five Sub-counties and have been fully equipped with the aim of assisting farmers to prevent the spread of the pests that feed in large numbers on leaves, stems, and reproductive parts of plant species.

According to Musikoyo, his Department has procured enough pesticides for small scale farmers across the County.

He admitted that the County Government has no capacity to purchase the pesticides for all farmers, adding that large scale farmers will be able to buy on their own.

“We have in store last year’s stock and we have also procured extra insecticide as we want to ensure that more small scale farmers are assisted under this initiative…, we would wish to encourage large-scale farmers to make their own arrangements,” the Chief Officer said.

He encouraged farmers in the region to plant early as he attributed fall army worms to late planting.

“Scientifically crops planted on the onset of rains grow faster and therefore escape invasion of the worms at the early stage of growth,” he added.

To encourage diversification in the County, Musikoyo said that the Agriculture Department has procured 20,000 coffee seedlings, 30,000 tea 43,000 tissue culture banana seedlings besides purchasing 30,000 Macadamia seedlings to sell to farmers at subsidized prices.

“As a Department, we also want to encourage farmers to venture into other agricultural activities to improve their incomes that include dairy and poultry keeping,” he said.

He said that programs such as National Agriculture and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) and the Agriculture Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP) have supplemented the County’s agricultural initiatives on diversification.

“We are impressed that most of our farmers are now into the crop diversification, a program that our Department has been promoting since 2014 and some of the farmers are now ripping big” Musikoyo said.

At least 15,000 bags of fertilizers were distributed to needy maize farmers during the exercise.

By Pauline Ikanda

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