Maize farmers in Lamu West district are up in arms against a pest that has invaded their maize crop, sending fears that it will affect yields this season, increasing hunger pangs amongst the community if no urgent measures were taken to address the situation.
The most hit divisions are Witu and Mpeketoni, where the pest attacks the crop’s roots, then the crop withers. It is christened “Buu” by the local farmers.
Several farmers expressed their fears to a visiting team from the National Accelerated Agriculture Input Access Programme (NAAIAP) secretariat that this year’s yield might be affected by the pest, which was unknown in the area.
Lamu West District Agriculture Officer mr. Ali Mwakufunzi confirmed the presence of the pest and the farmers’ fears that its effect would affect the farming negatively and called for calm as the government was doing everything possible to address the problem.
The NAAIAP visiting team, led by the programme coordinator, Mrs. Rose Mwangi, inspected the good maize crop, grown by farmers who were supported by the programme.
Mrs. Mwangi was impressed by the support the vulnerable farmers gave the government by stepping up the growing of certified seeds and fertilizer.
Under the programme, each identified farmer was supplied with a ten kilogramme packet of certified maize seed, 50kgs of DAP and CAN each for planting and top dressing.
Mrs. Mwangi expressed regret that the programme’s efforts to assist vulnerable farmers food secure might be hampered by the pest and called on crops protection section in the ministry and agricultural scientific researchers to move fast and find the lasting solutions to the problem.
The primary objective of NAAIAP is to improve access and affordability of key inputs to the millions of smallholder farmers, particularly those living below poverty line, so that they can get out of the vicious cycle of poverty and participate in agriculture as a business.
Inspection team also toured Tana River, Bura, Kaloleni, and Kilifi, where District Agriculture Officers confirmed Base line survey, agro-dealer report, stockits inventory, end of year seasonal impact assessment report, farmers Group inventory and Annual report.
The team also visited and interviewed a number of farmers, who expressed gratitude to the government for coming to their rescue, particularly in the introduction of fertilizer use and planting using certified seeds.
m/s Ruth Chimoli and Joannes Ndambuki of Mpeketon called on the government to educate them on how to acquire credit from banks which recently signed the credit guarantee with the ministry of agriculture, so that a farmer who had been assisted by the programme can soldier on using the credit, once the government support is stopped.