Fall army worm, drought dim hopes of sufficient harvest

Business Daily Kenya:  Kenya’s maize production is expected to drop up to 12.6 million bags this year due to the fall armyworm (FAW) devast...

Business Daily Kenya: 

Wheat and maize farmers in Narok are facing a bleak future following an infestation of the crops by a variety of pests including stalk borers. Photo/COURTESY

Kenya’s maize production is expected to drop up to 12.6 million bags this year due to the fall armyworm (FAW) devastation and the persistent drought in the country.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said yesterday up to 20 per cent of maize crop on farms has been affected and with the continuing spread of the pest, the number is likely to go up.

He said this is in addition to about five to six per cent harvest reduction due to drought. “The weather is still not good and with the FAW devastation, we are foreseeing a drop in maize crop production this year,” Bett said yesterday at Kilimo House where he signed a trade agreement with Zambia.

Kenya produces slightly more than 42 million 90kg bags (4.2 million tonnes) of maize annually with a consumption of 39 million bags.

Last year, the country harvested 37 million bags according to government data, however Tegemeo Institute of Research and Policy had estimates the harvest at 32 million bags.

Therefore, it meant that at any given year, Kenya requires 10 million more bags to fill the deficit. Bett indicated that FAW devastation and the ongoing drought will reduce maize production by around 12.6 million bags.

“As we step up interventions against the fall army worm, we are also sensitising farmers on drought mitigation and adaptation measures; telling farmers to pay attention to weather forecast in order to select the right type of crops to plant, when and where,” the CS said.

A survey by Tegemeo Institute done in September 2016, indicated that maize production for the year was low compared to demand and this would affect this year’s supply.

Francis Karin, a researcher at the institution said the country will need nine million bags of maize to cover the deficit. But that was before FAW invaded Kenyan farms.

The pest has caused serious damage with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa Vice President for Programmes, Joe de Vries, calling on African governments to act swiftly to stop it.

The post Fall army worm, drought dim hopes of sufficient harvest appeared first on Mediamax Network Limited.

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