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Armyworms destroy maize in Ukambani

Justus Bong’o at his farm that has been invaded by armyworms and maize stalk borer at Ong’eche village in Nyando, Kisumu County. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Residents of some parts of Makueni County are counting their losses following an invasion of African armyworms that have left dozens of acres of crops destroyed.

For the past two weeks, farms, especially in Kaiti, Ukia, Mbooni, and Kilome, have been attacked and crops destroyed.

According to the director of Agriculture, Amos Ndunda, more than 1,600 acres of maize crop have been damaged.

The armyworms pose a threat to the county that is already in the grip of biting famine and drought.

It is estimated that about 700,000 people in the county are in need of relief food, the National Drought Management Authority reports.

Ndungi Kyalo, one of the affected farmers from Kaiti, said more than four acres of his maize crop have been ravaged by the pest.

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Mr Kyalo said he woke up one morning and found his farm, which is his family’s only source of a livelihood, destroyed.

Counting loses

“I have experienced a great loss after these worms invaded my farm and I’m not sure whether I will get a good harvest like last year,” said Kyalo

Another neighbour, Nduku Mutune, suffered the same fate.

“We call upon the government to rescue us from impending disaster if these armyworms destroy all our crops,” said Nduku

The Agriculture director said the worms have caused the farmers heavy losses in just a short time.

Ndunda added that the reproduction rate of such worms was around 2,000 eggs that hatch in just four days, wreaking havoc on crops.

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He said the pest destroys maize crops by eating the leaves, hence causing the plants to wither.

“Our extension and research officers will be visiting the affected regions and commence the spraying of the crops”, he said.

The farmers have lauded the decision, saying it would have cost them Sh300 to purchase a 150ml container of pesticide.

The latest reports indicate that up to 10 per cent of farms under maize have been invaded by armyworms in Trans Nzoia County, but the pests are spreading further afield, with some farms in Maseno also facing an imminent attack. 

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