Kenya’s coffee output could be adversely affected following an outbreak of thrips in one of the most productive parts of Central Kenya.
Thrips are small insects that feed on many commercial crops, including coffee. A thrips attack, if untamed, can cause immense damage to the coffee tree, significantly reducing coffee bean production.
Farmers in parts of Kirinyaga County are a worried lot following an outbreak of the pest that is now threatening to decimate entire crops amid fears that it could spread to neighbouring Embu, Murang’a and Nyeri counties.
The outbreak has hit all coffee-growing zones in Mwea East and Mwea West sub-counties due to what experts said were prolonged drought conditions under which the pest thrives best.
Gitari Ndambiri from Kiamichiri village, whose 500 coffee trees have been attacked by the pest, said he had not appreciated the magnitude of the attack until recently.
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"Towards the end of March, I started noticing some leafs turning grey from underneath, but I did not get bothered since I thought it was due to the prevailing drought," he said.