Residents seek intervention as armyworms destroy crops in Murang’a

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 23 May, 2024 13:37 | 2 mins read
Maize plant affected by armyworms.
Maize plant affected by armyworms. PHOTO/KNA

Maize farmers in Murang’a have called for the government’s intervention to control the spread of fall armyworms which are destroying their crops.

The farmers who aired their cries to KNA, decried the destruction caused by the worms may subject them to hunger in near future.

They complained that some of the pesticides they source from local agro-vets are not effective as even after treating the crop, parts of the plants are completely destroyed by the insects.

One of the farmers from Kiharu area, Josephat Ndirangu decried that almost half of his one-acre maize farm has been destroyed by the fall armyworms.

“I have used various pesticides but they have not been effective. The pesticides are quite expensive, also pushing some of us to employ traditional methods to control the worms,” observed Ndirangu.

The farmer said this season due to destruction of the crops, he is expecting to get not more than two sacks of maize from the farm where he usually gets four or five sacks.

“We want the government to deploy extension officers to visit our farms and advise the right pesticides to use to control the worms,” appealed Ndirangu.

Another farmer Peter Macharia said a big part of his maize crop farm was completely destroyed by the worms after he was unable to purchase and spray the crops.

He said the prices are beyond his reach, saying the ministry of agriculture should be spraying farms on behalf of farmers as a way to mitigate food insecurity.

“Prices of the best pesticides are beyond reach to many subsistence farmers. If the government is committed to attain food security there is a need to support us in controlling these insects which are affecting our crops,” posed Macharia.

In a rejoinder Murang’a county director of agriculture Peter Muchiri said lower zones of the county have been greatly affected by the fall-army worms.

He said about 20 percent of maize crops in lower parts of Murang’a so far have been destroyed by the insects adding that the destruction of maize in upper zones is about 10 percent.

“Maize is commonly grown in parts of Maragua, Kiharu, Kandara and Ithanga. These sub counties the destruction caused by the army worms is quite high as compared to upper zones due to cold weather,” explained Muchiri.

He added that the county department of agriculture has embarked on educating farmers on the best measures to control the worms.

“We have deployed a team of extension officers to the field. The farmers will educate farmers how to spray their maize and also the best pesticides to use. Unfortunately, the extension officers are few as compared to demand for their services,” he added.

Muchiri revealed the worms have devastating effects to farmers including low yields, high cost of farming due to expenses on pesticides and also use of pesticides to control armyworms would pose a high health risk to the consumers of maize. 

“From research farmers are advised to employ crop rotation, early planting and use of resistant crop varieties to control fall armyworms. Use of pesticides must be carefully done to avoid resistance and environmental damage,” highlighted the director.

He continued: “Resistance to pesticides and ability to adapt to new environments make fall army worms hard to manage but monitoring and early detection are crucial to prevent large scale infestations.”

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