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Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus could have entered Queensland through imported seeds – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

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Ccucumber green mottle virus could have entered Queensland through imported seeds

 

Posted 3 May 2017, 3:18pmWed 3 May 2017, 3:18pm

Biosecurity authorities are trying to figure out how a fruit and vegetable rotting disease broke out in Queensland, but have initial suspicions it was through imported seed.

Farmers from the Bundaberg region are angry cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) has recently been discovered on five local properties, owned by two growers.

CGMMV causes internal rot and discolouration in some cucurbit family fruit and vegetables, and its discovery comes months after an outbreak of white spot disease decimated the aquaculture industry in south-east Queensland.

Biosecurity Queensland spokesman Mike Ashton said the virus was not harmful to humans, but could ravage parts of the agriculture industry if a widespread outbreak occurs.

He said there was a possibility the virus was brought onto the infected farms by imported seeds.

That is considering the businesses operate independently and do not share personnel and equipment.

“That kind of increases the risk that perhaps it was seed that was the source of the introduction,” he said.

“It’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever be able to pinpoint exactly how it got introduced.”

“We’re certainly doing tracing investigations to try and identify the source.”

Farmers like Gino Marcon are angry there has been an outbreak of another virus, and are switching to less risky crops.

Mr Marcon normally grows a wide range of vegetables on his farm, but this year, he is only growing tomatoes to avoid CGMMV.

“We’ve actually stopped growing cucumbers, we’ve sort of got a wait-and-see attitude at the moment,” Mr Marcon said.

“We’re a bit worried that the disease may affect our zucchini production, so we’ve switched over to 100 per cent tomato production in our greenhouses.”

He blamed biosecurity authorities for the outbreak.

“We’ve lost confidence in the system and that’s the biosecurity system,” Mr Marcon said.

“We think it’s not broken, it’s shredded to bits. It’s simply not working.

“I think the whole system needs to be overhauled, we’re not getting value for money for the money being allocated to biosecurity.

“[Politicians] need to look long and hard at the whole system and change it.”

Mr Ashton rejects the allegation that the system has failed.

“We have managed to restrict the disease to a very small number of properties in Queensland,” he said.

“Unlike the Northern Territory and increasingly so in Western Australia where the disease has become quite established.”

There have been previous outbreaks of CGMMV in the Territory and WA, and an isolated case at Charters Towers in North Queensland in 2015.

Biosecurity Queensland hope the Charters Towers farm will be declared clear of the virus later this year.

The Federal Agriculture Department introduced mandatory imported seed testing to try and combat CGMMV in 2014.

In a statement, the department said it uses a sample size more than four times the size (9,400 seeds) than that used internationally (2,000).

It said that gave a high level of confidence in the results.

Topics: pest-management, rural, quarantine, crop-harvesting, agricultural-policy, vegetables, activism-and-lobbying, agricultural-crops, fruit, fruits, bundaberg-4670, qld

| EurekAlert! Science News
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Public Release: 4-May-2017

Stink bugs: Free guide for agricultural integrated pest management

Insights for midwestern corn, soybean growers on managing various stink bug species

Entomological Society of America

IMAGE
IMAGE: A new open-access guide in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management outlines the identifying features, lifecycles, behaviors, and management options for a variety of stink bug species that are increasingly… view more 

Credit: Photo credits: Cassandra Kurtz and Christopher Philips, modified by Daniela Pezzini

Annapolis, MD; April 28, 2017 — Farmers in the midwestern United States have been battling increasing infestations from a variety of stink bug species in recent years, and now they have a new free resource for understanding and managing the emerging pests.

Next week, the Entomological Society of America’s open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management (JIPM) will publish “Identification, Biology, Impacts, and Management of Stink Bugs (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) of Soybean and Corn in the Midwestern United States,” a profile of several of the most common stink bug pests that offers methods for differentiating species, summaries of stink bug life cycles and behaviors, and guidance for monitoring and managing them.

Stink bugs have historically been more prevalent pests in the southern United States, but they are now making more frequent appearances in midwestern fields, according to Robert Koch, Ph.D., assistant professor and extension entomologist at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the JIPM article. “Because stink bugs are emerging as a new threat to Midwest soybean and corn production, we felt that there was need for a comprehensive review of these pests that was accessible to producers and agricultural professionals,” he says.

Koch and co-authors conducted an extensive review of existing research on management of stink bugs in developing the new profile aimed at midwestern growers. While “at least 24 species or subspecies of stink bugs could potentially be encountered in soybean and corn in the midwestern United States,” the most common pest species are outlined in the article, including:

  • Green stink bug (Chinavia hilaris)
  • Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys)
  • Redshouldered stink bug (Thyanta custator acerra)
  • Brown stink bug (Euschistus servus)
  • Onespotted stink bug (Euschistus variolarius)

In soybean, stink bugs can feed on all above-ground parts of the plant but prefer pods and developing seeds, and the damage they cause can affect yield, seed quality, and germination rates. In corn, stink bugs can feed on corn at all growth stages, but seedling and early reproductive stages of corn are most susceptible.

Koch and colleagues specify scouting methods for measuring stink bug abundance in fields, along with economic thresholds at which management tactics should be deployed. Their research identifies which classes of insecticides may be best suited for individual species and identify additional resources for growers to investigate cultural and biological control measures, as well.

“Stink bugs tend to be generalist pests and can feed on and move between different crops and wild plant species throughout the year,” says Koch. The JIPM profile rounds up existing knowledge about stink bugs, much of it from research conducted in southern states, but “further research is needed on corn and soybean response to stink bug feeding in the Midwest,” he says.

###

“Identification, Biology, Impacts, and Management of Stink Bugs (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) of Soybean and Corn in the Midwestern United States,” by Robert L. Koch, Daniela T. Pezzini, Andrew P. Michel, and Thomas E. Hunt, will be published online on May 4 in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management. Journalists may request advance copies of the article via the contact below.

CONTACT: Joe Rominiecki, jrominiecki@entsoc.org, 301-731-4535 x3009

ABOUT: ESA is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has over 6,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, the Society stands ready as a non-partisan scientific and educational resource for all insect-related topics. For more information, visit http://www.entsoc.org.

Journal of Integrated Pest Management is an open access, peer-reviewed, extension journal covering the field of integrated pest management. The journal is multi-disciplinary in scope, publishing articles in all pest management disciplines, including entomology, nematology, plant pathology, weed science, and other subject areas. For more information, visit https://academic.oup.com/jipm, or visit https://academic.oup.com/insect-science to view the full portfolio of ESA journals and publications.

The spread of pests and pathogens that damage plant life could cost global agriculture $540 billion a year, according to a report published on Thursday. The report, released by the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) at Kew in London, said that an increase in international trade and travel had left flora facing rising threats from invasive […]

via Pests and pathogens could cost agriculture billions — The Plantwise Blog

Asian-Pacific WS meeting

Dear colleagues and friends,

On behalf of the organizing committee, it is my pleasure and great honor to invite you to attend the 26th Asian-Pacific Weed Science Society Conference (APWSS 2017) Kyoto, to be held on  (refer to http://www.c-linkage.co.jp/apwss2017/). The theme of the conference is “Weed Science for People, Agriculture, and Nature.”

Weed science is a comprehensive research area that covers ecology, biology and chemistry related to weed control and management. Weed science is nowadays an advanced science that is closely linked to human societies. We should use interdisciplinary and multifaceted approach to address future weed science and management. I assure you that attending the 26th APWSS conference provides an excellent opportunity to meet experts in weed science and the respective fields and learn to apply your new-found knowledge when you return home.

The host city, Kyoto, is the ancient capital of Japan and is recognized worldwide as the country’s historical, cultural and spiritual heart. The city offers you numerous cultural and unique experiences with its countless shrines, temples, and architectural masterpieces including 17 UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites. Mid-September is one of the best times to visit Kyoto. We suggest you to take a nice walk and to enjoy the streets and local sightseeing spots before and after attending the conference.

We look forward to welcoming you in Kyoto, September 2017!

Dr. Hiroshi Matsumoto

Chairperson, the 26th Asian-Pacific Weed Science Society Conference (APWSS2017)

President, Asian-Pacific Weed Science Society

Professor, University of Tsukuba

*************************************************

The deadline of call for papers is on 31 May 2017.

(refer to http://www.c-linkage.co.jp/apwss2017/papers.html)

Other important links are as follows:

Registration details   http://www.c-linkage.co.jp/apwss2017/registration.html

Program    http://www.c-linkage.co.jp/apwss2017/programme.html

Secretariat e-mail: apwss2017@c-linkage.co.jp

SE farm press

Boll Weevil USDA Agricultural Research Service

The weevil: an historical look at the ‘war’ that changed Southern cotton

The boll weevil and its hunger for cotton was powerful enough to forge an unprecedented partnership between farmers, legislators and scientists.

Dominic Reisig | May 18, 2017

The boll weevil is not much to look at – just a grayish, little beetle with an impressively long snout. But this particular beetle, and its hunger for cotton, was powerful enough to forge an unprecedented partnership between farmers, legislators and scientists. And that partnership showed how much can be accomplished when scientists and farmers work together.

What adult boll weevils lack in size they make up for with their larvae’s ability to feed on and destroy cotton. Boll weevils entered the U.S. from Mexico in the late 1800s, when they were first spotted in Texas. By the 1920s they had spread through all of the major cotton-producing areas in the country. The scope of the damage was breathtaking, as were the control efforts thrown at this insect: at one time, one-third of the insecticide used in the U.S. was used to combat boll weevils.

Editor’s Note: This was originally posted on the North Carolina State University website.

In 1903, the chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

testified before Congress that the insect’s outbreaks were a “wave of evil,” and that afflicted areas in Mexico had abandoned cotton production altogether. Indeed, many scholars agree that the impact was so great on the rural South’s cotton-dependent economy that it was one of the causes of the “Great Migration,” when African Americans moved en masse to the northern U.S. during the early 1900s.Despite the arrival of the boll weevil, cotton production at first actually increased in the U.S., because the price of cotton increased as the boll weevil ran some cotton growers out of business. Cotton production moved in advance of the weevil, creating a boom in cotton plantings in areas that were weevil-free. But as the cotton spread, so did the boll weevil – costing cotton growers billions in revenue.

Declaring War on the Weevil

Then, in 1958, something novel happened. The National Cotton Council of America unanimously agreed, for the first time ever, on a piece of farm legislation. Among other things, that legislation called for cotton research to be expanded – and the boll weevil to be eliminated.

This was an unusual step for many reasons. First, efforts had been made to eradicate insects in livestock before, but no one had ever tried it with a crop pest; this was breaking new ground. Second, this was going to cost a lot of money, which would require the support of the federal government. Third, nobody had yet come up with a way to eradicate the insect. Finally, once eradication began, the eradication process would become a common pool resource. Because of this, cooperation would be vital, given that there would be a temptation for individuals, or whole regions, to get a free ride, relying on the contributions of their neighbors to the eradication effort. So mandatory farmer participation was a must. One by one, each of the challenges were addressed, requiring close collaboration at every step.

Insect eradication was not an entirely new concept. The promoter of eradication was a USDA Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) scientist named Edward Knipling, who had come up with an idea called the sterile insect technique. This technique was pioneered in the 1950s to eliminate screwworm, a parasitic insect pest of cattle. The sterile insect technique relies on flooding the environment with lots of sterile males. Those males then mate with females, but don’t produce any offspring. Knipling now envisioned eradication of the boll weevil, recognizing that it had two chinks in its armor. First, it was an exotic species, which meant that it could be present without some of the parasites and predators that weakened populations in its native Mexico. Second, it was reliant on a single host plant, cotton, which was also not native to the U.S.

Unfortunately, the sterile insect technique bombed. One million sterile boll weevil males were released in a trial. But the sterile males couldn’t compete with their virile wild counterparts and the trial was unsuccessful.

If eradication was going to take place, scientists would have to develop a new method. To that end, the federal government, state governments, and various cotton foundations and associations appropriated millions of dollars to support the research needed to develop the necessary tools for eradication.

For example, Congress funded USDA-ARS laboratories in many states, including one on the campus of Mississippi State University that was critical to creating many of the tools needed for eradication. This support continued through the eradication effort, ensuring that the insect could be eliminated beginning in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, and moving steadily southward.

But the researchers of eradication faced a significant challenge up front. They knew that, for eradication to be successful, there had to be a very effective method of controlling boll weevils – one with a success rate of close to 100 percent. And that would require a significant leap over the available control techniques.

During the 1950s, controlling boll weevil infestations required multiple applications of very harsh and toxic insecticides (e.g., aldrin, azinphosmethyl, benzene hexachloride, chlordane, dieldrin, toxaphene, malathion, methyl parathion, and parathion). But a separate scientific advance was just around the corner.

New Weapons

In the 1960s, researchers were just beginning to understand the importance of insect pheromones, the chemicals produced by insect species that change behavior of other individuals in the species. USDA-ARS scientists discovered the sex attractant pheromones of the boll weevil – the combination of chemicals that allowed male boll weevils to find female boll weevils. These researchers were able to perfect a synthetic attractant pheromone blend, creating a lure that could be used to trap the amorous boll weevils. This advance would prove to be the linchpin for successful eradication, as weevils could be attracted, trapped, and monitored.

Another major breakthrough was the discovery of a method of control that increased success from 85-90 percent control to 98-99 percent.

Insect development is dependent on temperature, and lower temperatures slow down weevil development and reproduction. Mississippi scientists discovered that, by making multiple insecticide applications at short intervals during the autumn, they could both reduce the last reproductive generation of the weevils and significantly limit the survival of potentially overwintering adults. This was termed the reproduction-diapause control method.

The combination of the pheromone traps and the reproduction-diapause control method meant that, given cooperation on an area-wide basis, the boll weevil might be eradicated. And the pheromone traps cold also be used to confirm whether eradication efforts were successful. This one-two punch was tested in a pilot program in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana during the early 1970s. The pilot program couldn’t prove that this approach would eradicate boll weevils, but it was successful enough at reducing population levels that government, industry and research officials opted to proceed with a large-scale approach. This next step involved rolling out two companion trials in the late 1970s: one trial took place in Mississippi using the best known control methods for boll weevil at the time, while another trial tested the reproduction-diapause control method in North Carolina and Virginia.

Cooperation was critical to the North Carolina/Virginia trial. The federal government came through with enough funding to support 50 percent of the trial, while the state of North Carolina agreed to pick up another 25 percent of the cost. And more than three-quarters of North Carolina cotton growers approved of the eradication, agreeing to fund the remaining 25 percent. Meanwhile, a new insecticide had become available, diflubenzuron, which proved to make the eradication even more successful.

After three years, the reproduction-diapause method proved so successful that only one weevil was trapped in the North Carolina/Virginia eradication area. Moreover, this weevil was thought to be left over in a contaminated trap that hadn’t been cleaned properly. Insecticide use plummeted after eradication, but expansion and continuation of the program was not easy. Problems with funding, grower support in new eradication areas, and outbreaks of other pests, resulting from intensive insecticide applications used in eradication efforts – which obliterated beneficial insects that normally kept pests in check – slowed the process However, by 2009, the boll weevil was declared eradicated from all U.S. cotton-producing states, with one exception: Texas, which is the biggest cotton producer in the country.

A Fragile Victory

Which brings us to 2017. Eradication efforts have been stalled at the Texas-Mexico border, largely due to the instability created by illegal drug trafficking. That instability has effectively made large cotton farms in Mexico inaccessible for treatment, creating a welcoming habitat for boll weevil populations to rebound. Another problem in Mexico is the presence of non-cotton plant species that can host boll weevil. Further efforts to limit cooperation across the border, including the proposed border wall, ensure that the boll weevil’s “wave of evil” remains a looming threat. As a result, there is an ongoing battle to keep boll weevils in check in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, funded by an ongoing annual assessment from cotton-producing states, which is aimed at preventing – and tracking – the spread of boll weevil populations.

But this story also highlights the fact that that the boll weevil has been largely conquered in the U.S., thanks to cooperation among growers, scientists and government officials – and due, in large part, to federal research funding. For example, in the southeastern U.S., a boll weevil has not been captured in a pheromone trap in 14 years. And those federal investments, made across the South, continue to pay dividends in the form of new projects, which are poised to tackle today’s native and invasive insects due to the investments made from boll weevil eradication.

For example, those early investments by state and federal governments created the USDA-ARS research system that is still present today across the southern U.S., including the facility at Mississippi State. This system continues to make a difference for U.S. farms. Research units in areas that still have boll weevil populations are using cutting-edge technologies, such as population genetics and aerial infrared imaging, to track movement of the species and identify potential patches of host plants for destruction. As boll weevils have been slowly eradicated, state by state, these researchers and facilities have shifted research priorities to other issues and pests affecting crop production. No one wants to fight another hundred-year war with a plant pest.

SW FarmPress
California cotton
Researchers have found that crossing Bt cotton with non-Bt cotton can reverse issues of resistance by the pink bollworm to the transgenic efforts to control them.

Researchers able to reverse resistance of pink bollworm to Bt cotton

Collaborative effort by researchers in China and the University of Arizona find unique method to reverse resistance of pink bollworm to Bt cotton. Implications exist for transgenic corn and soybeans as well.

Farm Press Staff | May 09, 2017

Researchers with the University of Arizona and China discovered a surprising strategy to reverse pink bollworm resistance to genetically engineered cotton.

Cotton growers have been able to use genetically engineered cotton to fight the pink bollworm. This has happened as scientists have been able to produce pest-killing proteins from the widespread soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. Without adequate countermeasures, scientists have discovered that pests can quickly evolve resistance.

According Bruce Tabashnik, one of the authors of the study and a regents’ professor with the University of Arizona, these Bt proteins are considered environmentally friendly because they are not toxic to people and wildlife. They have been used in sprays by organic growers for more than 50 years, and in engineered Bt crops planted by millions of farmers worldwide on more than 1 billion acres since 1996.

Scientists from the U.S. and China discovered that by hybridizing genetically-engineered cotton with conventional cotton, it reduced the resistance of the pink bollworm. Details of the 11-year study that tested more than 66,000 pink bollworm caterpillars from China’s Yangtze River Valley are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tabashnik says this is the first-ever case where scientists have seen substantial reversal to resistance developed by a pest.

The primary strategy for delaying resistance is providing refuges of the pests’ host plants that do not make Bt proteins, according to Tabashnik. This allows survival of insects that are susceptible to Bt proteins and reduces the chances that two resistant insects will mate and produce resistant offspring.

Before 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required refuges in separate fields or large blocks within fields. Planting non-Bt cotton refuges is credited with preventing evolution of resistance to Bt cotton by pink bollworm in Arizona for more than a decade.

By contrast, despite a similar requirement for planting refuges in India, farmers there did not comply and the pink bollworm rapidly evolved resistance.

The ingenious strategy used in China entails interbreeding Bt cotton with non-Bt cotton, then crossing the resulting first-generation hybrid offspring and planting the second-generation hybrid seeds. This generates a random mixture within fields of 75 percent Bt cotton plants side-by-side with 25 percent non-Bt cotton plants, according to the University of Arizona.

“Because cotton can self-pollinate, the first-generation hybrids must be created by tedious and costly hand pollination of each flower,” said Tabashnik, “However, hybrids of the second generation and all subsequent generations can be obtained readily via self-pollination. So, the hybrid mix and its benefits can be maintained in perpetuity.”

Tabashnik calls this strategy revolutionary because it was not designed to fight resistance and arose without mandates by government agencies. Rather, it emerged from the farming community of the Yangtze River Valley. While most previous attention has focused on the drawbacks of interbreeding between genetically engineered and conventional plants, the authors point out that the new results demonstrate gains from such hybridization.

“For the growers in China, this practice provides short-term benefits,” Tabashnik added. “It’s not a short-term sacrifice imposed on them for potential long-term gains. The hybrid plants tend to have higher yield than the parent plants, and the second-generation hybrids cost less, so it’s a market-driven choice for immediate advantages, and it promotes sustainability. Our results show 96 percent pest suppression and 69 percent fewer insecticide sprays.”

There are implications in transgenic corn and soybeans as well.

“This study gives a new option for managing resistance that is very convenient for small-scale farmers and could be broadly helpful in developing countries like China and India,” explained coauthor Kongming Wu, who led the work conducted in China and is a professor in the Institute of Plant Protection in Beijing.

“A great thing about this hybrid seed mix strategy is that we don’t have to worry about growers’ compliance or regulatory issues,” Tabashnik said. “We know it works for millions of farmers in the Yangtze River Valley. Whether it works elsewhere remains to be determined.”

How Kenya is soldiering on in war against armyworms – Daily Nation

The good, bad and ugly in fight against armyworms

Friday May 12 2017

Patrick Wanjala, a maize farmer in Namanjalala, Trans Nzoia County displays a maize plant attacked by armyworm in his farm.

Patrick Wanjala, a maize farmer in Namanjalala, Trans Nzoia County displays a maize plant attacked by armyworm in his farm. The pest has potential of causing famine since the larva not only feeds on staple food crops but also grass, pasture and any green vegetation. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By STANLEY KIMUGE
More by this Author

From far, Malaki village, about some 6km from Kitale town in Kwanza in Trans Nzoia County, is lush green, with farms teeming with the maize crop. Nothing looks unusual at various fields but as one moves closer to the maize farms, a different story unravels.

The maize crop has been ravaged extensively by the fall armyworms, with the area being the worst affected by the pests.

Patrick Wanjala, a maize and beans farmer, bends for the umpteenth time looking at his crop. His face is forlorn showing the anguish and frustration that the pest has caused him.

“I have never seen anything like this before in my life as a farmer. I am not sure if I will harvest any maize this season.”

Under normal circumstances, he would have harvested between 60 and 70 90kg bags from his one-and-half-acres.

“It started with small holes on the plants’ leaves and I thought it was just the stem borer as that is the common pest here. I sprayed but nothing changed then reports of the armyworms having invaded the region filtered in,” recounts Wanjala.

In a bid to tame the notorious pest, Wanjala said he applied ash and even red soil as desperation set in.

“I tried that hoping that it would work but it was all in vain,” says Wanjala, whose crop was attacked some two months ago.

Then hope came when the government announced that it was coming up with measures to tackle the pest that is a threat to food security since it is destroying maize.

Armyworm has potential of causing famine since the larva not only feeds on staple food crops (maize, wheat, millets and sorghum) but also grass, pasture and any green vegetation mainly on the leaf lamina, leaving only the mid-rib

A team was set up at the county and national level to co-ordinate the fight against the worms.

But to date, Wanjala says he has not received any chemicals from either the county or national government as promised.

“I have been to the county offices several times hoping to get chemicals in vain. Two days ago I went there. More than 2,000 of us had turned up and the chemicals were not enough despite the little amounts they were giving,” says Wanjala, who is yet to spray any chemicals on his maize crop.

ONGOING RAINS

So far, according to the county government, some 15,000 acres of maize have been affected in the region, but the inspection of the fields is ongoing to ascertain exact figure.

The ravenous pest has fed on the “heart” of most of plants leading to stunted growth.

Trans Nzoia County, which is the country’s food basket has borne the brunt of the armyworm attack, with an estimated thousands acres of maize having been ravaged.

County’s chief agriculture officer Mary Nzomo says the county is distributing chemicals to farmers to contain the situation, though they are not enough.

“We have been able to spray about 10,000 acres out of the over 15,000 affected by the pest,” says Nzomo, noting an adult worm lays up to 2,000 eggs and it’s important to kill them before they become adults to avoid spreading. Besides spraying, she says the county has taken other measures to curb spread, which include sensitisation of farmers.

Maize crop attacked by the pest in a farm.

Maize crop attacked by the pest in a farm. Normally, the pests feed in the evenings and early morning. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“We are holding public barazas where we also distribute educational flyers and we do on-farm demonstrations. We are currently holding talks on FM radios as well as print and broadcast media to spread the message,” she says.

She notes despite promise by the national government that they will get chemicals since it recommended the spraying be done three times, no pesticides have been distributed to them and in the nearby Uasin Gishu County.

“Those farmers that have sprayed have noticed the chemicals are working. What we are telling farmers is that if you spot the pest in your area, you need to spray all maize plants including those that have not been attacked to avoid re-infestation,” says Nzomo.

Other factors are also hampering the struggle to eradicate the pest including the rains.

“Sunny and humid conditions help control multiplication of the pest but with the ongoing rains, it becomes a challenge to spray. Normally, the pests feed in the evenings and early morning and this is the time we are asking farmers to spray, but with the heavy rains, when they spray the chemicals are washed away.”

The farmers have been advised to spray at least three times in two weeks after germination, when the crops are knee-high and during the formation of the tarsals (about the flowering stage) to control the pest.

SALVAGE CROPS

Last month, Trans Nzoia set aside Sh45 million while Uasin Gishu Sh2 million to fight the pest.

“This was to cover about 20 per cent of farmers, mainly small-scale. On average, the cost of spraying is about Sh2,000 per acre but we are assisting to do one spraying for farmers,” says Nzomo.

Joseph Cheboi, Uasin Gishu County Director of Agriculture, says that four out of six sub counties have reported armyworm infestation, with Soy and Moiben that border Trans Nzoia County being worst hit.

Bernard Kimuiguei, a farmer in Kipsombe in Soy, says that his 20 out of 40 acres under maize has been affected.

“I was given some chemicals by the county officials but they were too little. I have to dig deeper into my pockets and it is really costly,” he says.

Dr Victoria Tarus, county chief officer in-charge of agriculture, says approximately 600 acres have been infested but they are distributing chemicals to farmers.

Robert Aluda, a farmer in Namanjalala Trans Nzoia, says besides the failure to get pesticides, lack of information on how to control the pest is also the biggest setback.

Trans Nzoia County Deputy Governor Stanley Tarus, Agriculture Chief Officer in the county Mary Nzomo and farmers during the launch of Fall Armyworm Management Campaign

Trans Nzoia County Deputy Governor Stanley Tarus, Agriculture Chief Officer in the county Mary Nzomo and farmers during the launch of Fall Armyworm Management Campaign in the county on May 09, 2017. Farmers whose maize crop had been infested were given pesticides to fight the invasion. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“If we knew from the beginning what the pest was and how to eradicate it, we would have salvaged our crops. We just heard on the radio that a pest had crossed the Kenya-Uganda border but we thought it won’t be that destructive so we did not act fast,” says Aluda, who took a bank loan of Sh50,000 and sank into the maize farm.

But it is not all gloom. Charles Sawe from Moiben says he bought himself chemicals recommended by agricultural extension officers and he has been able to clear the worms on his expansive farm.

He says that only few farmers have received the government chemicals.

UNDER CONTROL

The government recommended the following chemicals; Duduthrin, Twigapyrifos, Belt, Match, Ranger, Loyalty, Integra, Orthene, Jackpot, Imaxi. They are also using cocktails and are working well.

Other chemicals include Chlorpyrfos, Alpha Cypermerthrin , Indoxarb, Di Ubenzuron, Clorantraniliprole and Spinetoram.

At the Coast, where there was African armyworm attack, farmers have reported success in eradication of the pest. In Taita Taveta County, the armyworms invaded Njukini and Challa within the agriculturally rich Kasigau-Maktau belt and some parts of Mwatate.

Agriculture chief officer Evans Mbinga said the worms invaded 25 hectares under maize crop as well as some ranches. “At least 60 farmers were affected by the armyworms invasion, which followed rains after a prolonged drought. Following the rains, new grass sprang up and it created a conducive environment for the armyworms to multiply,” he explains.

The agriculture official says the county has brought the armyworm invasion under control after spraying pesticides on affected farms. “County field officers teamed up with farmers in spraying the pesticide known as Cypermetherin which wiped off the armyworms.”

Joseph Ivuso, a farmer in Taita, whose 2.5 acres of maize were invaded says he eradicated the pest with the help of county agricultural officers.

In Kwale County, the director of agriculture David Wanjala says the armyworms invaded 25 acres of maize in Lunga Lunga.

However, he noted that the pests did not cause a big damage. “When the farmers planted maize, the moths were at pupae stage in the soil, so when the rains started pounding the region they easily drowned.”

But despite the rains wiping away the pests, Wanjala says the county is expected to receive 1,000 litres of pesticide from the national government next week, which would be used in case the worms reappear.

Additional reporting by Mathias Ringa