Categories: Politics

Trump’s Administration Issues Warning to Kenya

The United States government has issued a warning in Kenya over the recent invasion of voracious pest known as the fall armyworm that could wipe out nearly 50% of Kenya’s annual cereal produce.

According to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) coordinator Regina Eddy, the pest that has invaded parts of Rift Valley which could destry up to 50 percent of the annual maize crop.

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Eddy noted that other than attacking maize, the pest is also a threat to the other crops including millet, sorghum, cotton, and sugar.

And although it only recently arrived from the Americas, the fall armyworm “will likely be in fields forever” in Africa, she added. Ms Eddy cited a Brazilian farmer’s comment that “it’s like a marriage without a divorce.”

Fall armyworm has ravaged farms in Kenya and across Africa, compromising food security. (Photo Courtesy)

She further disclosed that the climate conditions in Sub-Saharan Africa were “ideal” for the rapid spread of the fall armyworm.

The absence of frost will enable the pest to live throughout the year, multiply quickly and damage crops over a wide area.

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A study commissioned by the British government’s Department for International Development in 2017 concluded that in 12 African countries (excluding Kenya), total potential losses by the pest could range from $2.5 billion to $6.3 billion.

She further revealed that USAID was considering all technological options including use of genetically modified (GMO) maize seeds that are resistant to fall armyworm’s aggression and the use of chemical and organic pesticides.

Her warning came days after a Rift Valley farmer identified as Kibet told off Westlands Member of Parliament (MP) Timothy Wanyonyi who is also the chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture over the government’s laxity despite the pest’s invasion.

Contrary to its name, a fall armyworm is actually the migratory caterpillar of a widely distributed noctuid moth is most active in the US in autumn.

The insect’s relentless march leaving a trail of destruction on crops on its “field of battle” earned it the term “armyworm.”

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