Plant health rallies as an extension tool in small-scale farming in Kenya

Ndiritu M, Nyikal R, Boa E. "Plant health rallies as an extension tool in small-scale farming in Kenya." CABI Study Brief . 2016;12.


Kenya has consistently reported new and serious disease and pest problems on key crops over the
years, often associated with substantial crop yield losses. In just the last six years, for example, maize
lethal necrosis – a disease responsible for crop losses valued at about US$ 4.1 million in 2014 alone –
and tomato leaf miner entered and got established in the country. For small-scale farmers, who make
up 80% of the farming community and contribute 25% of the GDP, an attack by such diseases could
spell doom for their income and food supply. Decisive action is needed to prevent new pests and
diseases from spreading and becoming established. Also, other well-established crop pests and
diseases regularly cause major crop losses. Farmers need help to take preventative measures and
avoid costly and often less effective treatments after the problem has entered the crop. Extension
campaigns can play a critical role in controlling crops pests and diseases by acting as a source of
timely information. One such approach, plant health rallies, has been embraced in Kenya, though so
far on a limited scale. In 2015 the University of Nairobi and Plantwise undertook a study in parts of
Kenya among 150 farmers and 27 extension staff in five counties to get a picture of extension
campaigns in crop health and to understand how the role of plant health rallies could be enhanced in
delivering a comprehensive service to farmers. The study focused on maize lethal necrosis, mango
fruit fly, Napier grass stunt, tomato leaf miner and wheat stem rust, all which have the potential for high
economic impact.


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