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Fall Army worm to cost farmers Sh12.8 billion

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Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has confirmed that Fall Army Worm (FAW) impact will occasion farmers a Ksh 12.8 billion in losses.

He said farmers will also suffer an estimated 20% post-harvest loses accounting to 7.5 million bags maize.

Bett said maize farmers will lose Ksh 37 billion due to post-harvest losses and the impact of FAW a situation, he noted was likely to trigger prices increases and general food insecurity.

Speaking at Kilimo house, the CS added that the acreage affected by the FAW stands at 200,000 acres, which account for four million bags equivalent to Ksh 12.8 billion loss.

“Considering current prices of Ksh 3, 200 per 90 kilogramme/ bag the government is buying from the farmers, 20 percent post-harvest losses of 37.9 million bags stand at 7.5 million bags of maize”, Bett said, adding that if this is quantified into value translates to Ksh 24.2 billion losses while the economic value loss already incurred due to the impact of the pest stand at Ksh 12.8 billion.

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Kenya Country Director Gabriel Rugalema said the presentation of the equipment follows the signing of the technical cooperation between his organisation and Kenya governments.

“The equipment will be used in 80 villages to be identified by the ministry and FAO officers in the maize growing areas,” said Dr Rugalema.

Early this year, the ministry had projected post-harvest losses to hit 10% and 12% of the total maize output.

Farmers have been grappling with the fall army worm infestation that has reduced the potential area under maize production in the country by about 200,000Ha.

Meanwhile, the CS confirmed that the Maize subsidy will end by December 31 and consumers will thus continue enjoying the Ksh 90 two-kilo packet of maize flour.

“This extension to the subsidy follows a meeting between the ministry of agriculture and millers on Monday,” Bett said, adding “by now, we should be at the peak of purchasing maize from farmers, but the ongoing rains have affected the purchase.”

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So far, the CS said only 284,036 bags of maize have been purchased by the National Cereals and Produce Board against a target of over 1.5 million bags.

The CS said that if the subsidy was to end, it would trigger the increase in prices of maize to almost Ksh 4, 500 per 90-kilogramme bag, which would hurt consumers.

“By December, the rains will have reduced and farmers will be able to harvest, and by then, the country will  have stocked enough maize in the National Strategic Grain Reserve and ensure stability of prices,” he said.

Bett said between now and December, when the subsidy is expected to end, a projected 1.7 million bags is needed for milling and the rest of the demand will be met by the maize being held by farmers.

“Currently 1.1 million 90kg bags of maize are being offloaded at the Port of Mombasa from four ships and another 700,000 bags is at the NCPB depots for millers.

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