- The extensive drought that affected large swaths of sub-Saharan Africa for much of last year aggravated the armyworm invasion, as it creates the lengthy hot, dry conditions in which the worm thrives.
Here are some facts on the fall armyworm affecting crops in Kenya.
1. The armyworm derives its name from its feeding habits of eating everything within an area, and once the food supply is diminished, the entire “army” marches to the next available food source.
2. The fall armyworm currently ravaging crops in the region is native to North and South America, in regions particularly east of the Rocky Mountains in the US, reaching northward into southern Canada.
3. Fall armyworm invasions have been confirmed in 20 African countries, including the whole of East Africa and are extremely difficult to contain.
4. Kenya has so far lost approximately 15,000 ha of maize, valued at Sh1.3 billion, to armyworms and the annual loss could be 40 million bags of maize, valued at Sh120 billion, assuming that the cost of one bag remains at Sh3,000.
5. In Brazil, the third largest maize producer in the world, the fall armyworm is the most devastating pest, causing damage estimated at more than $400 million annually.