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Armyworms wreak havoc in 33 counties

Army-Worm [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A record 33 counties have been affected by the fall armyworm invasion, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The pests have invaded farms under maize, sorghum, beans, finger millet and other crops mostly in Kakamega, Homa Bay, Siaya, Kericho, Bungoma and Busia.

About 5,525 farmers from Busia have been affected by the destructive worms, while in Kericho they have invaded Soin in Sigowet constituency, destroying several acres.

In Siaya, they have affected North Alego in Nyamila, Ulafu and Olwa villages while in Yimbo East, villages affected are Goma, Mugane, Got Ramogi and Barkanyango. The pests have also been seen in Ugenya.

The ministry said 500,000 acres of land under pasture and crops have been affected in 33 counties.

Speaking in Kisumu during the launch of a training on African Army worm control, Francis Owino, the Principal Secretary at the State Department for Crops Development and Agricultural Research, said with threats of further spread, there is need to put in urgent control measures.

Owino said a strategy launched in February offers stakeholders a framework for collaboration and monitoring of migratory and invasive pests. “Emergency response to the African Army warm outbreak is therefore necessary to avert a food and nutrition crisis. The government, in collaboration with partners, is stepping up interventions in affected counties,” said the PS.

Among the responses lined up are training officers involved in control operations, dissemination of technical information, public awareness and enhanced data collection from the field to a centralised data centre at the ministry.

He added: “Installation and revival of African army warm warning system and monitoring on effectiveness of control operations and compliance with environmental, health and social safeguards are underway.” 

He asked county governments to be at the forefront in reporting, overseeing execution of control operations and community awareness to ensure animals do not graze in the sprayed fields. The PS said the ministry had trained youth across the counties to spray pesticides on farms.

“The training entails and promotes personal safety for the spray service providers. We also look at human and livestock, the environment and other forms of life as well as responsible use of pesticides,” he added.

Spraying kicked off in Teso North in Busia while capacity building for different stakeholders was done in Kisumu for three days. Those who participate in spraying work alongside pesticide specialists. ”From the deliberations and training, the menace will be controlled. Through a partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the ministry has kicked off training of crop officers to control the pest,” Owino said.