Government Research body to receive Sh300 million to control army worm

Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) will receive Sh300 million to fight the deadly fall army worm.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe said the resources will be used for rapid assessment and research on the suitable chemicals for use to control the worm.

He however urged county governments to allocate resources to buy pesticides on time in case the fall army worm attack the just planted long rains crop.

Counties should also ensure there is adequate surveillance to help farmers fight the pest. They have the responsibility to deal with the issue, Lesiyampe said.

The government, the PS said has formed a rapid response team comprising of research institutions and other industry players, but it can only come in to help when the counties are overwhelmed.

He has also advised farmers to be on the lookout, especially when the crop starts sprouting.

Lesiyampe advised that besides using pesticides, farmers should also use other mechanical methods such as planting Napier grass around the farm to control spread of the pest.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary, Andrew Tuimur is in Brazil with a team of technical officers from the ministry for a meeting with other African countries that have also been affected by the pest.

KALRO, Director General Eliud Kireger, said they will be releasing a guide on the list of chemicals that have been tested and could be used by farmers to control the army worm.

The government first reported the fall army worm pest at the beginning of 2017 around February / March in Western Kenya and has rapidly spread to all the maize growing areas in Kenya causing significant economic damage to maize.

In April 2017, the Government in response to the rapid spread of the pest further established a multi-institutional Fall Army Worm (FAW) Technical Working Group with Food andAgricultural Organization (FAO ) tasked to advise the government on strategic interventions to halt further spread and damage.

FAW is known to feed on more than 80 species of crops with a preference for maize and could reduce yields by up to 80 per cent.

Source: Kenya News Agency