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    Yellow crazy ant

    By George Munene

    A study conducted on invasive alien pests (IAPs) has identified 120 species not currently present in Kenya but could be introduced and become invasive in the future threatening the economy by impacting on agriculture.

    The research conducted by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) identified these as the most dangerous IAPs:


    Pathogenic organisms

    41 pathogenic organisms were found. 10 were present in all countries neighbouring Kenya except S.Sudan.

    They included X. citri, C. fimbriata, P. atrosepticum, Faba bean necrotic yellows virus, Ralstonia solanacearum Race 2, Potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd), Claviceps fusiformis, Phytophthora colocasiae, Puccinia substriata var. Substriata, and Xanthomonas fragariae.

    They all were all judged to have pronounced economic impact and a high likelihood of entry and establishment in Kenya.

    85 per cent of the assed pathogens were likely to arrive as contaminants on commodities, especially as seed-borne pathogens. 68 per cent through stowaways if the pathogen could be carried in soil (soil-borne) or by a vector (virus and viroid).

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    To combat these pathogens scientists suggest as a first course of action to survey for potential presence of the prioritised pathogenic species in Kenya, particularly those that have been reported in neighbouring countries.
    Full Participatory Rural Approaches (PRAs) are proposed for those that affect value chains prioritised by Kenya.



    The top five species included two species of the whitefly, MEAM1 and MED, the peach fruit fly Bactrocera zonata, the yellow crazy ant Anoplolepis gracilipes, and the Southern armyworm Spodoptera eridania.

    70 arthropod species were assessed; 69 insects and one mite.

    13 species have already been recorded in neighbouring countries (Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda)

    Six of the species had not been recorded in Africa at the time of the assessment

    89 per cent of arthropods were likely to arrive as contaminants on commodities. 16 per cent were likely to arrive as stowaways/hitchhikers, while 6 per cent through unaided good fliers.

    Actions to control the prioritised species included conducting full PRAs and surveys or surveillance for their presence or introduction in the country, particularly species reported in neighbouring countries.

    In the last decade, Kenya has been particularly affected by new introductions of invasive plant pests that damage cultivated plants.

    IAP are pests introduced accidentally or deliberately into a natural environment they are not normally found, with serious negative consequences for their new environment.

    The two most “costly” invasive plant pests on the African continent are Pthorimaea Tuta absoluta and Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm). They respectively account for $11.4 B and $9.4 B in losses per annum.

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    Tuta absoluta, first reported in Kenya in 2013, is now the most destructive invasive tomato pest affecting 41 per cent of tomato farmers with a mean seasonal production loss of 114,000 tonnes.

    Lack of or limited resources to update pest lists, organise horizon scanning to prioritise likely pest incursions, and conduct regular surveillances on prioritised pests results in most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa reacting to pest incursions rather than proactively stopping them.

    For the original paper visit: Prioritization of invasive alien species with the potential to threaten agriculture and biodiversity in Kenya through horizon scanning

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    By George Munene

    Farmer lobby groups led by the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya, the National Potato Council of Kenya, and the Cereal Growers Association have warned that a report forwarded by The National Assembly’s Health Committee that recommends the Pest Control Products Board ensures products banned in Europe and the United States are not in use in Kenya will savage agricultural production in the country.

    "There will be a near-immediate maize crisis, closure of the country’s coffee estates, a cut in tomato production by 80 per cent, and a crippling in production of potatoes, wheat, rice, onions, and most other crops," warned Ojepat Okisegere, CEO of the Fresh Produce.

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    The petition was filed last year by Uasin Gishu woman representative Gladys Shollei on behalf of Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya, Kenya Organic Agriculture Network, Resources Oriented Initiative Kenya, and Route to Food Initiative.

    The lobby groups had argued that the volume of imported herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides had doubled in the past four years from 6,400 tonnes in 2015 to 15,600 tonnes in 2018, posing a risk to health and the environment.

    The petitioners singled out 24 products in the Kenyan market that are carcinogenic, 24 that can cause damage to genetic changes, 35 that can interfere with the hormonal system, 140 that can affect the nervous system, and 262 products that show effects on reproduction toxicity. The products had also been banned in Europe, United Kingdom, and the USA.

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    The consortium that represents farmers has opposed the report and wants the national parliament to assess the impact of pesticides banned in the EU and US on Kenya’s agricultural production before extending the same in Kenya.

    The group cautioned that the pesticide ban could be catastrophic and did not incorporate the input of the agricultural committee or any agricultural policymakers.

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    Fall Armyworm

    By George Munene

    The Fall Armyworm (FAW) is amongst the most devastating pests to Africa’s food systems. In response to this, agriculture nonprofit Land O’Lakes 37 and Villa Crop Protection have prepared freely accessible training modules outlining the appropriate responses smallholder farmers should take to combat this pest. 

    Research amongst Zimbabwean farm-holders showed that those who failed to implement these control strategies had a 50% lower per capita household income than their counterparts that implemented them. 

    According to data from the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), in the absence of any control methods, the Fall Armyworm (FAW), causes maize yield losses of 21–53 per cent in just of 12 of Africa’s maize producing countries annually. This amounts to 8.3 to 20.6 million tonnes; Sh267-Sh666 billion in potential losses.

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    Smallholder maize growing households blighted by the pests are at a 12 per cent higher risk of experiencing hunger.

    The learning modules are meant to equip extension service providers who then disseminate the acquired knowledge and skill on crop protection to smallholder farmers. The information is however open-source; freely accessible to anyone.

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    Amongst the key areas the seven module course covers include: Fall Armyworm identification; Chemical and non-chemical controls of FAW, as well as responsible chemical use when combatting FAW.

    The materials for each module is freely available for use and download upon registration here:

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