Food shortage looms as armyworm strike again
Another food shortage looms in the country as armyworms re-emerge in Kenya’s breadbasket regions: Uasin Gishu and Nandi counties.
Farmers are now complaining of losses as the worms ravage their farms.
The fall armyworm was first detected in Western Kenya in March last year and the government tried to put in measures to forestall its spread but it was in vain.
“Hakuna namna sababu tulispray na Omo na ilichoma mahindi, sasa hakuna namana sahii, serikali tu, tunaomba walete dawa (We are out of options. We even tried spraying the worms with Omo but this destroyed our maize even more. We are pleading with the government to bring us the right chemicals,” said one farmer on condition of anonymity.
The losses are already too much to bear for the farmers who say they did not anticipate the armyworm attack this year.
“Serikali last year ilikuja wakati hii shida ilikuwa kubwa sana. … Kilio chetu ni kwamba serikali ije wakati shida sio kubwa zaidi…this time round watusaidie na dawa ya kupuliza (Last year, the government came in to assist us when the situation was dire but this time round we are asking for early intervention),” said another farmer.
“Shamba ya kwanza imeharibika ni 25 acres, na mwaka jana niliathirika tena. Sasa kama imeanza mahindi ikiwa chini, sasa hii mahindi haiwezi kuja juu, itaharibu na hii madudu (The first farm that has been affected is 25 acres and last year my crops were also destroyed. The worm starts from the bottom of the plant which means it cannot grow),” he lamented.
In mid-November last year, the government embarked on a Ksh.50million program in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for traps to control the armyworms.
However, they are yet to be distributed to farmers up to now.
Food security experts estimate that farms on hundreds of thousands of acres were wiped out by armyworms last year while the Agriculture Ministry projected a 25 percent drop in maize production.