A fall army worm at one of the maize crop belonging to Solomon Anyiga at Kamungeny village in Rongai. (Photo: Kipsang Joseph/Standard)
Maize farmers in Uasin Gishu are staring at a serious crop failure due to erratic rains that may affect average crop yield at the end of this season.
Farmers in Moiben, Kuine and Karona Meibeki have started counting their losses with their crops wilting due to the current dry spell that has lasted for weeks. Some have been forced to cut it down and feed it to livestock. County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture Cyrill Cheruiyot says 35,000 acres of maize have been affected.
“We are staring at a serious loss at the end of the season. Some crops have reached a permanent wilting point that cannot be salvaged even if rains start pounding,” he said yesterday.
Farmers did their best by early planting and applying required fertiliser that saw quality crop development. However, they have been devastated by the bad weather.
Cheruiyot said there will be need for replanting in the affected regions once rains resume. The crop is approaching flowering stage when it requires enough rain but it has now been scorched by the dry spell. Kenya National Farmers Federation Treasurer Mrs Ruth Kemboi, Uasin Gishu branch, expressed fear of poor yields saying the dry spell has seen maize crop drying up in the fields.
“Farmers are just from applying chemicals provided for the fight against the fall army worms but the current dry spell has now dampened their spirit. Farmers who were yet to plant wheat have suspended their plans,” said Kemboi. At the same time, Dr Cheruiyot cautioned farmers against feeding the crop directly to the livestock to avoid nitrate poisoning. He urged them to instead cut it and leave it for some few days before using it as animal feed.
With the challenge of fall army worms at hand, Dr Cheruiyot early this week announced a helpline number had been released to enable farmers seek advice on the management of the fall army worm. The helpline is 0702426904.