By Fredrique Achieng’
The Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) a leading plant science research organization, has launched a farmer education program to help farmers in Coastal Kenya fight against the Papaya Mealybug, a pest that causes 56% to 91% in yield losses.
The campaign dubbed “Taking to the Airwaves” is funded by the Darwin Initiative and CABI Plantwise aims to educate farmers on IPM ways to mitigate the pest across three major producing counties Kwale, Kilifi & Mombasa.
According to a report by Horticulture Crops Development Authority (HCDA), papaya is the 5th most important fruit both for the export and local market earning farmers Sh2.2bn in 2016. However, management of the pest has continued to be a problem for farmers CABI.
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“The climatic conditions in Kenya make it possible for the pest to exist in almost half of the country with Kwale losing at least 60% of its produce dropping from 20,005 to 6,248 between 2017 and 2018,” said MS Gauko, Development Communication Specialist CABI Kenya.
The pest, native to Central America, was first reported in Kenya in 2016, according to CABI.
The decrease of production in this time also attributed to a decrease of household income estimated at Sh23,000 leaving small-scale farmers desperate for solutions leading to excessive use of chemical products to use to eradicate the pest.
The education program is expected to reach farmers through Radio Kaya 93.1fm and aims to strengthen ongoing government initiatives in the creation of awareness through extension services and farmer training.
The campaign comes after a launch of the mealybug management program by CABI in partnership with Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale county governments Ministries of Agriculture, Kenya, Kalro, Kefri, Kephis, the University of Nairobi and Precision Agriculture for Development.
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“The papaya mealybug has made several of my farmer friend stop the farming of the fruit, it is a difficult pest to manage. It is good for international organizations are helping us to deal with this pest,” says Kalume a papaya farmer in Kilifi.
For more information CABI