Maize crop destroyed by armyworms in Ukambani

African Armyworm
African armyworms during an outbreak in Kilosa District, Tanzania. Photo: ChriKo (used under the Creative Commons licence)

An invasion of African armyworms that have left dozens of acres of crops destroyed in some parts of Makueni County.

During the last fortnight, crops have been destroyed in attacks on farms especially in Kaiti, Ukia, Mbooni and Kilome with Kenya’s Director of Agriculture, Amos Ndunda, claiming 1,600 acres of maize crop have been damaged.

Armyworms destroy maize crops by eating the leaves, causing the plants to wither.

Latest reports indicate that up to 10 per cent of farms under maize have been invaded by armyworms in Trans Nzoia County. However, the pests are spreading further afield, with some farms in Maseno also facing imminent attack.

The armyworms threat comes as county is already in the grip of biting famine and drought, with an estimated 700,000 people in need of relief food, according to the National Drought Management Authority.

The Agriculture director said the worms have caused heavy loses for the farmers heavy in just a short time, adding that the reproduction rate of such worms was around 2,000 eggs that hatch in just four days, wreaking havoc on crops.

“Our extension and research officers will be visiting the affected regions and commence the spraying of the crops”, he said.

The farmers have lauded this decision, saying it would have cost them Ksh300 to purchase a 150ml container of pesticide.