By Ojwang Joe

Kisumu — The government has kicked off the implementation of a number of emergency response measures to avert a food crisis in the country following the outbreak of the African fall army worm.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Francis Owino who is in charge of Crop development and agricultural research stated that over 500,000 acres of land under pasture and crops in 33 counties have already been affected.

He stated that they are carrying out training of officers involved in the control operations like spraying, enhanced public awareness to farmers, real time data collection from the field to a centralized data center at the Ministry.

“The current African Army Warm outbreak comes at a critical period when the country is in the main March-April maize planting season, which records the highest production of the crop in the country,” he said.

He pointed out that the government is partnering with the public and private partners to step up the interventions for rapid response and timely control of the pest.

“The state will continue to coordinate interventions by both public and private partners in the management of the migratory pest which is highly invasive,” he added.

The PS said county governments must also play a role in timely reporting, overseeing execution of control operations and community awareness to ensure animals do not graze in sprayed fields.

Speaking in Kisumu on Tuesday during the training of crop officers, PS Owino further directed an assessment to be done on the damages already caused by the worm in farms and the translating loss.

Already, he announced that the Ministry has trained a number of youths in the affected counties as Spray Service Providers (SSP) to spray pesticides for the farmers.

“The training entails and promotes personal safety for the sprayers, other humans, livestock, the environment and forms of life,” he said.

He called upon the counties to deploy and make use of the existing expertise among the youth in aiding the intervention measures.

The PS is optimistic that the government through the capacity it developed to manage the Desert Locust will surmount the challenges posed by the army worm.

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