Dry spell and army worm deals a blow to maize crop in Kerio Valley

Over 70% of maize crop in lower parts of Baringo County will be wiped out if the current prolonged dry spell continues coupled with the invasion by devastating fly army worm.

The destructive army worm has severely affected farms in Baringo South and the whole of Kerio Valley region where small scale subsistence farmers are pondering the next move after what has remained from the army worms have withered completely due to inadequate rains.

The Deputy County Director of Agriculture (DCDA), Elphas Ruto said the crops had reached a critical stage and unless it rains this week the crop will wilt and cause crop failure.

The deputy director in charge of extension said 800 litres of assorted chemicals given out by the national government for distribution was not adequate to contain the fast spreading army worm.

We received three types of chemicals and we distributed to farmers to spray their crops and it helped control the worms. We are worried that the attacks will escalate loses and affect production. If the rains fail this week, definitely the crop will wilt since it has reached a critical stage which require rains, he reiterated.

When KNA visited Kerio Valley region yesterday residents were completely puzzled on what they would do next after their only expectation to get good yields had turned to loss.

Jonathan Kiplagat, a farmer at Kurumbobso in the lower Kapropita location, Baringo Central, said after the biting drought that started sometimes in August last year had subsided, they were confronted with the deadly army worm that eats the maize plant to the core.

My four acre maize plantation I planted with the aim of getting income and food for subsistence use is now going to waste as I watch, remarks Kiplagat.

The small scale farmer lamented that he resorted to planting maize and other cereals this season after losing several livestock, his sole source of income in January and February following severe drought that ravaged the area.

Kiplagat stated that the insecticides supplied by the county government to spray the crops has borne no fruits as the destructive worm had resisted the chemicals and continued wreaking havoc.

Another farmer from Kapropita Soi, Patrick Kabutie added that when they sprayed their farms four times in a row as advised by the department of agriculture, infarct the worm grew bigger each day as it resisted the applications.

Kabutie said they have now resorted to trying traditional methods of spraying the maize crop with a concoction of wood ash, washing detergent and tobacco, an alternative which he noted was proving at least effective though labour intensive due to the large size of their farms.

Ms. Esther Rono another desperate farmer noted with dismay that they have not witnessed a calamity like this one before because everything had failed for them.

‘This issue of army worm is a great desperation to us as farmers and even to the government as the pesticides they provided to us has become ineffective. As the government look for another chemicals, we rest our hopes to God and prayed that He will intervene, said Ms Rono.

She said if the rains fail this week, they will be left with no otherwise but to allow their livestock to graze in the maize plantations so that at least save them from dying because of lack of grass.

Source: Kenya News Agency