Kirinyaga County Government has moved with speed to control the spread of the African Armyworm that have invaded parts of the county.
Governor Anne Waiguru says Kirinyaga is one of the counties that have been attacked by the African Armyworm, others being the neighboring Murang’a and Embu Counties as well as Meru and Tharaka Nithi.
Waiguru said that her administration has partnered with the National Government’s Directorate of Plant Protection in a spraying exercise that began on Thursday in Mwea constituency.
She noted that the exercise also targets parts of Ndia constituency while Njukiini ward in Gichugu is also under surveillance for prompt intervention should need arise.
Farmers from the affected areas have hailed the County Government for the timely intervention saying it will save their crop from imminent destruction from armyworms.
Patrick Muriithi, a farmer from Ndaba in Kangai Ward in Mwea, said that the worms were first spotted while attacking grass before moving in to the farms attacking crop such as maize and sorghum, noting that were it not for the swift intervention by the county government, farmers would have lost their harvest.
“We appreciate the county government’s effort in coming to our aid and educating us on how we will use the chemicals they have provided to control the spread of the pest,” he said.
Jane Magondu, another farmer from the area expressed gratitude to Governor Waiguru for responding swiftly to their calls to have the pests controlled before spreading further.
“When we saw these worms, we got so worried since if not controlled they are capable of eating up all the crop in our farms thus beaconing hunger. We are however hopeful our crop will now be saved,” she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Julius Murimi, a farmer who noted that good coordination within the agricultural department has enabled the timely intervention that was launched immediately after the pests were reported. He credited the swift response to the smooth communication between the farmers and the department through the field extension officers.
While leading the spraying exercise, the County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Dr. John Gachara, said that the African army worm is one of the deadliest migratory pests that is affecting the county covering the areas below coffee growing zones including Mwea, Ndia and part of Gichugu in Njukiini ward.
He said that the worms affect crops such as maize, grass family, but assured that the county government is committed to helping farmers tackle the challenge and the pest will be controlled before causing significant harm to the crop.
“The county government in support of the national government has adequate chemicals for use by farmers to cover the disaster at hand and so far, the invasion is not widespread and we aim to control it,” he said, noting that the County Government has put on surveillance systems through community driven organizations such as Wezesha groups, where information is relayed from farmers to the department.
Individual farmers can also relay information directly to the field extension officers who will in turn respond accordingly.