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    Nandi County Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Chief Officer, Willy Too (right) receiving a consignment of Belt pesticides from Ms. Peris Sang of Bayer East Africa Ltd.

    Small scale farmers in Nandi County can now breathe a huge sigh of relief after donation of Ksh. 2.5 million worth of pesticides by Bayer East Africa limited - West of Rift Region. The pesticides will be used to fight fall army worms which have ravaged more than 7,000 ha of maize in Nandi.

    Fall Armyworm Moth is a migratory pest native to North and South America. This pest occurs in large numbers and its caterpillars cause severe damage to more than 80 plant species especially cereal crops such as maize and rice.

    While receiving the consignment in Kapsabet, Nandi County Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Chief Officer Mr. Willy Too observed that 7000 ha of maize in the County have so far been destroyed by the invasion in the past three months. “Our farmers have incurred losses in excesses of Ksh.300 million especially in Chesumei and Mosop sub counties” said Mr. Too.

    READ ALSO: OPINION: African governments move into race to halt armyworm catastrophe

    READ ALSO: Control fall armyworms with this simple procedure

    READ ALSO: Plant extracts show positive results in containing fall armyworm

    According to Mr. Too, the fall army worm if not controlled will slowly threaten Kenya’s grain basket stating that the government will ensure all systems are put in place to eradicate the pest. “Everything is under control and farmers should not worry, we are implementing stringent measures to eradicate the worms” added Too.

    Last month the national government dispersed over 2000 liters of pesticides to contain the worm. Consequently, farmers have reported a reduction in the spread of the worms.

    Mr. Too applauded Bayer East Africa limited for the donation, adding that the pesticides received will be distributed fairly to farmers in the affected regions.

    On her part, Peris Sang who is the Head of Sales, Bayer East Africa limited said that the chemical known as ‘Belt’ is able to control the fall worm in all the six stages commonly known as ‘ instas’ and can be sustained in the plant up to the three weeks of control. She recommended farmers in the County to continue using the chemical as it has proved effective with a majority of farmers who have used it.


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                                  maize smut.jpg

    Maize smut infection causes the corn kernels to swell up into tumor-like galls (Pic: Courtesy)

    Smut is a maize disease that is caused by the pathogenic fungus Ustillago maydis. The fungus forms galls on maize cobs and is most vigorous in warm weather. The early signs of an attack are whitish galls that later rupture to release dark spores capable of infecting other corn plants.

    To prevent this disease, farmers should plough their farms deep to bury surviving spores that were overwintered in the previous year. Crop rotation with non-cereal plants such as cassava and sweet potatoes should be practiced. Clean and disease-free maize seeds should be used in planting because the disease is also seed borne.

    Chemical control is not very effective. Seed dressing is the most effective management option with the following: Carboxin 15%+Thiram 13% (e.g Vitaflo 280) 1.5g per kg seed should be applied.

     Farmers are advised to Plant resistant/ tolerant varieties e.g., WH699 at the onset of the rains for good crop establishment. Do not use higher rates of manure and nitrogen because disease incidence is higher in soils that contain a lot of nitrogen. Avoid injuring roots, stems and leaves during weeding as this creates entry point for the disease. It is also good to eliminate volunteer host plants such as sorghum and finger millet.

    READ ALSO: Farmer turns to short season maize to escape lethal necrosis disease

    READ ALSO: Farmer boosts maize nutrition with soy beans

    READ ALSO: Farmer intercrops maize with vetch to boost milk production

    When plant reaches knee height, check weekly for the presence of whitish grey tumor- like galls/ swelling on tassels, husks, ears/kernels, stalks, leaves,  prop roots and take action as soon as one infected plant is observed by cutting out and destroying the gall before the smut ruptures . Destroy the infected plants by burning or burying away from the maize farm.

     In case the affected plants are destroyed, avoid feeding livestock with infected materials because the spores can be transmitted through manure.

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    I-2 ND Vaccine.jpg

    Farmers admitting I-2 ND Vaccine to a chicken. It is the only intervention that protects chicken from Newcastle disease. Photo:

    Kenyan poultry farmers are set to benefit from I-2 ND Vaccine that will see Newcastle Disease attacking their poultry wiped out thanks to Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).

    According to KALRO Newcastle Disease is a major constraint to indigenous chicken productivity in Kenya and often causes 80- 100% mortality in unvaccinated flocks.

    “Outbreaks of Newcastle disease (ND) are unpredictable in many parts of the country and often discourage farmers from investing in the management and welfare of rural chicken,” said Vincent Ochieng assistant Research officer, KALRO.

    In many cases, vaccination against ND is the only intervention that protects chicken from Newcastle disease.

    READ ALSO: New KALRO poultry vaccines don’t need fridges to store

    READ ALSO: Scientists step up war on East Coast Fever with superior vaccine

     READ ALSO: Poultry farmer fights fleas with banana peels

    Commercially available vaccines for the control of ND are effective but require a cold chain during storage and transportation to end users. As such they are not suitable for small, multi-aged, scattered free ranging chicken in rural areas where cold chains are rarely available or difficult to maintain.

    “Commercial vaccines are ideal for large flocks and are packaged in large doses making them unsuitable for farmers with smaller flocks,” said Ochieng.

    Rural production systems have not been conducive for vaccination since they are viewed as low input systems often controlled by women who may not have access to services for various reasons.

    Most of the 30 million birds reared in Kenya are free range indigenous chicken whose potential in poverty alleviation is unexploited.

    A market ready chicken is currently sold at about Ks. 1,000 and their demand especially in urban markets is increasingly competing with broilers.

    Disease control through vaccination has the potential to improve their productivity thus increasing their supply to the market.

    The search for a vaccine appropriate for the Kenyan indigenous chicken production system, which is easy to distribute and administer in a rural set-up was thus envisioned.

    The thermostable vaccine is best administered via an eye drop. The I-2 vaccine can retain its protective ability for 8 weeks at 28°C when in freeze-dried form and stored in the dark.

    Results from trials in Kenya have shown that I-2 ND vaccine provides 62% protection against Newcastle disease virus in chicken under a free ranging system and over 96 % protection under a confined system.


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