Farms in Kenya Face Armyworms Attack

Farmers from different areas of Kenya have reported infestation of armyworms, mostly attacking maize crops. Scientists are saying that genetic engineering could be the key solution to such attacks.

Armyworms are considered as deleterious pests because they usually occur in large populations causing havoc to vast areas of farms, which makes them difficult to control. Areas that have been reported to have infestations include Trans-Nzoia, Nakuru, Kakamega, Nandi, Busia, Bungoma, Uasin Gishu, Taita Taveta, and Kwale. This infestation is perceived to be related to the recent outbreaks in maize farms in Malawi, Zambia, and South Africa.

One type of armyworm, the fall armyworm, is considered to be more devastating than African armyworm because it feeds on the leaves, reproductive parts, silk, and the cobs. It is also more challenging to control because of possible resistance to insecticides. According to Prof. Paul Kimurto of Egerton University, there is a need for strong monitoring for outbreaks and use of Bt maize since armyworms are actually the caterpillar form of a species of moth, and are typically very vulnerable to the pesticides produced by GM maize.

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This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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