Agriculture PS encounters tough day in House - Daily Nation

Ministry wants Sh400 million more to battle Armyworm

Wednesday May 16 2018

FAL armyworm invasion

Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe gestures during an interview at his office on May 23, 2017. He says the ministry needs more money to battle the armyworm invasion. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SAMWEL OWINO
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The Agriculture ministry is seeking an additional Sh400 million to lead a successful war on the Fall Armyworm that has been causing havoc on maize farms nationwide.

Principle Secretary Richard Lesiyampe on Wednesday told the National Assembly's Agriculture committee that the government should also declare the armyworm a national disaster and release the consolidated fund to mitigate it.

The Ministry of Agriculture has been allocated Sh300 million in the 2018/2019 financial year to fight the spread of pest.

"We have bought pesticides as the first defence to mitigate the armyworm. We are fully aware of its devastating effects and all government agencies have been involved to mitigate it," Dr Lesiyampe said.

FOOD SECURITY
The MPs demanded to know what strategy the ministry is putting in place to tackle the issue.

The lawmakers also expressed concern that the armyworm, if not urgently dealt with, has the potential to derail the government's 'Big Four Agenda' of expanding food production, improving the manufacturing sector, putting up affordable houses, and ensuring universal healthcare.

"This matter requires urgent attention from the government. The armyworm are spreading at a very high rate and will even start spreading to other crops other than maize," committee chairman Adan Ali Sheikh observed.

The Mandera East MP said the committee has faced backlash from farmers accusing it of failing to assist them in dealing with the problem.

FARMERS

Kwanza MP Ferdinand Wanyonyi accused the ministry of blaming the National Treasury in the drawn-out war against the pest.

"If your hands are tied, come out and tell us and stop blaming the Treasury for the release of the funds. This committee has powers to request for the necessary budget to assist you," Mr Wanyonyi told the PS.

"Everyday farmers are counting losses due to armyworm. We need to know the exact day the ministry intends to release money for the fight against this menace," he added.