Kenya is staring at a major food security crisis thanks to the army worm invasion.
The worms are devouring acres of food crops in 13 counties and spreading fast to other counties. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries has sounded the alarm and advised farmers to take immediate action to combat the pest that has capacity to cause up to 100 per cent crop destruction. The invasion complicates a situation already compounded by a prolonged drought.
The weatherman has warned that the long-awaited long rains will not be enough. By mid-April the rains were yet to fall as expected. The drought and the army worm are a double tragedy to our country’s food security which is also taking a knock from skyrocketing prices of basic commodities such as Unga and sugar.
The ministry’s Crops Division has notified all county directors of agriculture about the presence or possible invasion of the worm in the South Rift food basket counties of Baringo, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Narok, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Kericho, Baringo, Nakuru, Busia and Siaya, through Crops Director Johnson Irungu.
The pest causes massive losses in maize and attacks other cereal crops like sorghum, rice, millet, wheat and barley. Pasture like Bermuda, hay and Napier grass are not spared. Other susceptible crops include kales, cabbages, legumes, bananas, tomatoes, ginger, spinach, amaranthus, onions, citrus, cucumber and sunflower. The ministry has recommended nine insecticides to fight army worms. Four of these are available from Elgon Kenya Ltd, namely Coragen and Avaunt from Du Pont, Fastac from BASF and Vantex from Cheminova