As a key stakeholder in Agriculture, Bayer East Africa is keen to support farmers by providing innovative solutions for sustainable agriculture. The fall army worm infestation in Kenya is a new threat that continues to face the Kenyan farmers, both large scale and small holders, in especially maize production. The fall army worm is a deadly caterpillar that affects food crops in an alarming speed and is likely to damage and wipe out the crop entirely leaving the farmers with no harvest at all.
In support of the fight towards this invasion, Bayer East Africa donated a specialized insecticide formulated to fight the fall army worm. The insecticide, valued at 10 million Kenya shillings was donated to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in a ceremony that took place on July 5, 2017 at the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Organization. The Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Willy Bett received the donation from Bayer East Africa’s Managing Director, Mr. Eric Bureau.
“Bayer is a global Life science company with competencies in the field of Healthcare and Agriculture. We are a commercial company, but we have a social commitment to improve the lives of people, that is why we have decided to donate this insecticide worth 10 million Kenya shillings in small packs, particularly adapted to the needs of smallholder farmers,” said Eric Bureau, Managing Director, Bayer East Africa. “Fall Army Worm is a devastating pest threatening the income of thousands of small holder farmers in the country. With this donation we want to support small holder farmers in their efforts to protect their crops so they can make a good living out of it. We also want to contribute to the government’s effort to ensure that good and affordable food is available in the country,” he added.
Belt SC 480, the brand name of the insecticide, contains a new active ingredient from a new chemical class, the phthalic acid diamides, and provides a mode of action that acts differently against target pests than do conventional materials. It is a registered product in Kenya and one of the nine insecticides approved and recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in the fight against the fall army worm. It has also been used successfully in South America and South Africa for the same.
The product will be donated in monodose packs specifically targeting small holder farmers in five counties which include; Kwale, Nandi, Kirinyaga, Kakamega and Uasin Gishu.
Fall Army worm is a devastating pest of maize, rice, sorghum, cotton and vegetable crops. This results in economic loss which impacts negatively on a national food security and income. So far in Kenya the pest has been noted only on maize. Attack on maize at vegetative stage can result into 100% crop loss if no control is taken.
In his remarks, The Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Willy Bett called for more agro-chemical companies to donate more products and to give discounts to the farmers when they are selling their products, in order to help to eliminate pests ravaging farms in the country.” We are here as a result of the devastating results we have seen due to the presence of fall army worm in the country. Up to 20 per cent of maize crop on farms has been affected and with the continuing spread of the pest, the number is likely to go up. I want to thank Bayer East Africa for heeding to our call and donating to us this insecticide which has the capability to put the current invasion under control. The ministry will make sure the product is distributed in time to all the affected areas in order to avoid further damage,” he pointed out.
In addition Bett said that the government is putting up interventions against the fall army worm and also sensitizing farmers on the best chemicals to use, pest identification, monitoring and scouting as well drought mitigation and adaptation measures, encouraging farmers to pay attention to their farms to be able to detect the pest early enough and decide on what chemical solutions to intervene with. Fall army worm was first reported in September 2016 in West Africa and spread to South Africa where reports show it has already destroyed more than 100,000 hectares of maize in just three African countries.