18 April 2017

Kenya: Look Beyond Maize, Scientists Urge As Crops Threats Rise

Researchers are encouraging farmers to look beyond maize citing erratic weather, attack by diseases and the army worm threat as reasons to diversify.

More worrying is the cost factor in controlling the worms. The cheapest goes for Sh20,000 a litre, which is only enough for an acre.

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation director-general Dr Eliud Kireger said infestation of the worm was first reported in Trans Nzoia County last month on an off-season maize crop.

He said the pest can cause severe damage to more than 80 plant species including maize, sorghum, rice, millet, wheat and barley.

The repeated outbreak of Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN), which damaged over 260,000 hectares valued at Sh2 billion last season in Rift Valley, an outburst of head smut disease and attack by fall army worms is worrying potential maize farmers who have diversified to other crops to cushion them from losses.

The occurrence of army worms has dealt a blow to maize production in Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, and Uasin Gishu counties where the pests have been reported.

Farmers have now petitioned the national and county government to subsidise chemicals used to control the spread of the pests to minimise losses.

"The spread of the army worms is a major blow to farmers who are yet to recover from losses from MLN and head smut disease," said Mr John Kirui from Trans Nzoia County.

Kenya

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