Reports of Fall Armyworm attack in Kenya were mere rumors after all, the ministry of agriculture has revealed.
Speaking in Nandi County, the Agriculture CS Willy Bett asked farmers not to panic over invasion of the dreaded army worms and assured them of government’s support in case such case arose.
Bett’s assurance is a relief to thousands of maize and beans farmers especially in North Rift and Western region of the country where planting is season is at its peak.
Last month, experts had warned farmers to brace themselves for more effects of the ongoing dry spell, saying that an invasion of the maize destroying armyworm in Southern Africa could spread towards East Africa
The Fall Armyworm whose origin is traced to America are most lethal of all army worms, with reports indicating that they can clear 100 per cent of crop in just few hours.
This kind Armyworm, which is dispersed by wind, burrows inside maize stems and cobs making it difficult to detect and can lay up to six generations of up to 50 eggs in one location leading to rapid destruction.
It mostly attacks plants belonging to the grass family like maize and sorghum but it can also ravage beans, groundnuts, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, cotton, tobacco and clovers.
It is also difficult to control the pest which is the larvae stage of a Fall Armyworm moth and gets its name from the way it attacks crops by eating everything. It is said a single pesticide cannot neutralize the pest once it is at the larval stage.
Bett said Kenya received reports of the army worms in the last Six months, however, after investigations by officers they have all been found to be false alarm
The CS explained that the Kenyan government has been in top gear in its preparedness to contain any threat if identified.
He said his ministry has set up a response unit within the crops department to monitor the threat of any invasion by the pests
He further appealed to farmers to plant early to avoid pest attacks owing to the unpredictable rainfall this year.
Fall Armyworm attack has already been reported in South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia