Farmers panic over spread of maize disease
Posted Monday, May 28 2012 at 20:44
Farmers have warned of a major disaster if measures are not taken to curb the spread of a disease that has damaged over 80 per cent of the maize crop in three counties.
The Cereal Growers Association (CGA) said on Monday more than three million farmers in Bomet, Nyamira and Trans Mara have been affected.
The disease comes at a time when millers have complained about fast dwindling maize stocks, resulting in the price of a 2-kg packet of flour shooting up from Sh92 last month to Sh122.
Farmers in South Rift, a major producer of maize, normally harvest in July. The region produces up to 3.5 million bags a season.
CGA chief executive David Nyameino yesterday said what should be done immediately is to identify the nature of the disease.
“What has not been established is whether the disease is caused by a fungus or a virus,” Mr Nyameino said.
He said it was spreading so fast that the authorities thought it might be caused by a virus and was spread by the wind.
“The disease started in Bomet and in a short time it had spread to Nyamira and Trans Mara,” Mr Nyameino said.
He said urgent action was needed to avert it spreading to the North Rift, the country’s major breadbasket. Agriculture ministry officials there have been put on high alert.
Meanwhile, panic gripped farmers in Uasin Gishu County on Monday when maize belonging to the Kenya Defence Forces was found to have an unusual colour.
“We have established that it was caused by poor application of top dressing fertiliser,” Uasin Gishu agricultural officer Julius Cheboi said.