Nakuru County lost over 70, 000 hectares of maize, translating to thirty percent of the crop, to fall army-worm last year.
The CEC for Agriculture, Dr Immaculate Maina said the invasion also led to increased expenditure on farmers due to high cost of pesticide and labor.
“Consequently, the invasion had adverse effects on the environment and on pollinators such as bees by the continuous use of pesticides,” the CEC noted.
While addressing a workshop on combating fall army worms in Nakuru today, Dr Maina said farmers and governments should device ways of fighting the devastating worms without using chemicals.
“Let us put more emphasis in integrated pest management and in particular promote the non-chemical measures in managing the pest,” she advised.
She said farmers and governments should employ indigenous ways used to fight worms over the years.
She added that farmers should be trained on the responsible use of pesticides to minimize exposure to harmful effects to human and environment.
“As a county, we are working with the national government and partners in devising strategies for early warning and rapid response to any other emerging pest in future,” she said.
She said the county had trained and dispatched a technical team apart from working with research institutions on enhancing knowledge to help manage the pest.
“The County has set up traps and surveillance kit in maize growing zones to monitor diseases and pests at local levels for quick interventions,” the CEC revealed.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Kenya Representative, Dr Gabriel Rugalema said the worm was first reported in 2016 and spread fast across African countries.
He said massive awareness, scientific approaches, adequate funding and taking a regional approach was required in controlling the worm.
“Any yield loss due to the worms contributes to food insecurity at the time when we are faced with frequent droughts. We cannot underestimate it,” Dr Rugalema affirmed.
He said FAO had released funds under the Technical Cooperation Program to enable counties create awareness on the worm through information and advocacy campaigns.
In addition, he said FAO and the national government were distributing close to 500 fall armyworm pheromone traps to farmers for surveillance.
“This will facilitate timely and effective control actions for armyworms to minimize and avoid crop losses,” he assured.
The Director of Agriculture, Crop Management with the Ministry of Agriculture Dr Johnson Irungu said that only Wajir, Mandera, Isiolo Lamu Garrissa and Marsabit counties have not reported fall army-worm outbreak.
He added that the national government is acquiring an integrated pest management system for the fall army-worm through various stakeholders to contain the pest.