Armyworms raid Kilifi, leave trail of destruction

Thursday, May 5th, 2022 07:56 | By
Fall armyworm larva feeding on maize tasse. PHOTO/File

Farmers in Kilifi county are counting losses following the invasion of the fall armyworms in parts of the county.

The invasion was first reported in Mwakuhenga village, Mnarani ward, Kilifi north sub-county on Monday.  Two days later, over 15 acres of maize were reportedly cleared by the invasive pest.

One of the farmers, Kafedha Katana, said 40 percent of her maize have been consumed by the fall armyworm since the invasion.

“I planted my maize about a week ago. I have been monitoring their progress but two days ago I was shocked when I found the leaves of the maize crops had been devastatingly devoured. On a closer look I discovered the armyworms feeding on my maize. In some instances you would get four of them in one maize plant,” she said

Katana said she is fearing she would get 100 percent loss if the government does not intervene.

“I planted two acres of maize but I am afraid I will remain destitute. My efforts are going to waste and this will mean I will have no food. The government should come to our rescue by providing us with effective pesticides to spray our crops,” she said.

She has embarked on gapping process to replace the maize that had already been destroyed. She has now resolved to kill the army worms using his hands. “I am doing the gapping yes but without the pesticides they will also attack the new crops.”

A kilometre away; Mercy Mole shares the same predicament.

Luckily for Mole, she found a pesticide that has managed to kill the fall armyworm from her one acre maize plantation.

Expressed fears

Mole whose maize are two weeks old said she had even applied fertilizer when she discovered the worms.

“I got a pesticide that has controlled them and my crops are doing well but I am not safe yet because I have been surrounded by farmers who have not sprayed their maize and they have been attacked. The pesticide works upon contact with the army worm. This means a new attack can cause havoc unless I spray again,” she said

Mole expressed fears that if the pest won’t be controlled it would spread to other areas which would lead to food insecurity in the county.

“The county should move with haste. Fall army worms are very destructive and can wipe maize within no time. The more they grow the more they feed. They are more active in the morning and at night.”

Khadija Hussein is also counting losses after her one acre of maize was also wiped by the worm. Her maize crops are one week old. Only a few crops still remain standing in her whole acre.

Officials from the county government of Kilifi have confirmed the presence of the fall army worms in the county.

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