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May 11, 2008

Army worm outbreak threatens maize harvest in Kenya

Army worms have destroyed swathes of farmland in central Kenya, threatening food security in the east African nation, an official said.

So far, they have destroyed at least 30,000 hectares of maize around Mount Kenya region and are still moving on, according to area local administrator Wycliffe Ogalo.

"We have put measures in place to ensure that these destructive worms do not spread all over. Our officers have moved in to control them with spray chemicals," said Ogalo.

The country is currently threatened by an acute food shortage that was worsened by months of post-election violence that claimed 1,500 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

In addition to shattering Kenya’s reputation as a bastion of stability in a region beset by conflicts, the political crisis choked the mainstay tourism and agricultural sectors.

Effectively, the treasury slashed the 2008 growth forecast from 7.0 percent to between 4.5 and 6.0 percent, with independent economists putting it at an average of four percent.

The Times

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