By Muthoni Waweru
Nairobi — The Ministry of Agriculture and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Tuesday signed a technical corporation program worth Sh50 million to be used in the control of the Fall Army Worm (FAW).
FAO's Country Representative Gabriel Rugalema said part of the money has been used to procure a FAW surveillance kit, which will be distributed in some of the affected regions.
"This kit consists of moth culture and the necessary refills, traps and strips to be used for surveillance in the hot spot regions after which the extent of infestation will be determined."
Also present was the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett who said the coordinated sub-regional emergency response to FAW seeks to build on the success of a similar approach used for the African Army Worm (AAW) in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania and will strengthen and complement FAW control actions as country level.
"Rural communities will be empowered to effectively monitor the situation of both fall forecast infestations in their respective localities and initiate timely and effective management actions for both the army worms to minimise and or avoid crop losses," said the CS.
Bett added that in regions where FAW is not yet reported, an effective monitoring system will aid in early detection and rapid containment of the pest.
The pest which was first reported in Africa in 2016 now presents a permanent agricultural challenge for the continent as FAW feeds on more than 80 per cent crops, with preference for maize and can as well cut yields by up to 60 per cent.
Kenya's bread basket in the Rift Valley was among the regions affected as well as Taita-Taveta, Kwale in the Coast and Western regions of Kakamega and Bungoma counties with the Ministry of Agriculture laying down structures for the prevention, control and eradication of the Fall Army Worm.
At least 6-7 million bags of maize were lost since the pest was reported in Kenya in April.
"The government spent Sh300 million in mitigation of the pest as well civic education. That coupled with the rains that we are currently experiencing, the spread of the pest is under control for now," noted Bett.