Lamu, KENYA: More than 10,000 cotton farmers in Lamu County are counting huge losses after they experienced total crop failure this year following attacks of their plants by the notorious red spider mite.
The major cotton growing areas in Lamu are Baharini,Uziwa,Tewe and Nairobi area all of which are located in Mpeketoni division which remains the county’s major food and Agriculture hub.
Other cotton growing areas include Witu and Faza in Lamu East.
Affected farmers said they haven’t harvested a single bale of cotton due to the attack that has left all cotton buds infested.
According to the Lamu Cotton Farmers spokesperson Joseph Migwi, over 10,000 acres of cotton have been destroyed by the pest.
Migwi said efforts by farmers to spray all manner of prescribed insecticides bore no fruit as the pest seemed resistant to all.
The pest starts by eating up the inner cotton flower buds which are in turn expected to turn into the real cotton for harvesting.
“This year we will no single cotton farmer here will harvest anything. All our cotton has been destroyed by the Red Spider Mite pest. We used as many insecticides as we were advised but none worked and the pest kept spreading,”said Migwi.
Farmers who spoke said they weren’t sure how they would make through the year and take care of their needs now that their only dependable source of livelihood had disappointed them this year.
They want the government to come and help them determine how best to deal with the pest attacks so as to minimize losses.
Peter Kariuki, a cotton farmer from Mpeketoni town said “I pay my children’s fees from cotton but this year I am stuck. I don’t even have an alternative venture. We, however, hope someone will help us find out how we can address this whole situation.
They also want the county government to come in and sponsor the necessary costs for effective insecticides.
Cotton farmers in Lamu have also asked the county government to help them seek reliable markets for their produce adding that they have been forced to sell their cotton at ridiculously low prices due to the lack of a proper market.