Kenya rolls a strategy to stop the spread of the fall armyworm
The government (Ministry of Agriculture) has rolled out Bio Integrated Pest Management systems, in built crop resistance and chemicals, a three tier strategy to stop the spread of the fall armyworm
The move follows a warning over another fall armyworm invasion ahead of the planting season which has identified the North Rift region as a highly susceptible area.
The pest was first discovered in South America, and spread to Africa in 2016.Since then, it has has spread to Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda and is believed to have entered Kenya from Uganda.
“The warm weather conditions are a conducive environment for the breeding of the fall armyworms unlike the rainy weather conditions that hamper complete metamorphosis of the destructive pests,’’says Director of Agriculture information Dr. Isaiah Okeyo.
The Director has however cautioned on the application of chemicals saying “the use of chemicals in the fight to eradicate the destructive fall armyworms is expensive and poses a health risk to persons charged with its administration, ultimately detrimental for the environment owing to their potency.”
Fall Armyworm (FAW), or Spodoptera frugiperda, is an insect that is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas.
In its larva stage, it can cause significant damage to crops, in not well managed. It prefers maize, but can feed on more than 80 additional species of plants, including rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton.
By Malachi Motano