Armyworms: Tharaka-Nithi farmers stare at huge losses

Sunday November 17 2019

Armyworms have invaded maize farms in Tharaka-Nithi County causing fears among farmers that the destructive crop-eating caterpillars may hurt their earnings. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Farmers in Tharaka-Nithi County may have little maize harvest due to invasion of the Fall armyworm.

The pest has become a perennial threat to maize farmers in many parts of the country.  

Last season, Governor Muthomi Njuki declared the worm a threat to county’s food security and directed agricultural officers to train farmers on how to control the pest. This season, the worms have invaded farms again.

Mr James Mutegi, a farmer in Kibunga area in Tharaka constituency on Sunday told the Nation he has used many types of pesticides with little success.   

“I started noticing the worms a week the maize sprouted. I have been spraying using several types of pesticides with little success,” said Mr Mutegi.

Another farmer, Ms Lucy Kathiga said she was advised by a friend to spray the crop using tobacco but the worms disappeared only for very few days.


The farmers are calling on the county government to identify and recommended pesticides to control the worms before they lose the entire crop.

 “Should we not get a solution fast, the region is going to face an acute food crisis,” said Ms Kathiga. The pest has also attacked millet and sorghum.

Tharaka-Nithi County Agriculture executive Njue Njagi told the Nation that he will send his officers to the villages to inspect the farms and advise the farmers appropriately.

 “Our officers will from next week visit the farms to investigate the matter and advice farmers on the right pesticides to control the worms,” said Mr Njagi.

Last season, the worms caused massive destruction of maize crop in Tharaka-Nithi and Embu and Meru counties.  

According to Mr Joseph Kimathi, a crop expert, the pest is deadly because it feasts on both young and mature crop.