The rampant Fall Armyworm caterpillar arrived in Africa from the Americas in 2016, affected around 50,000 hectares of maize in Kenya alone in 2017, costing 25 per cent of the crop, according to government officials.
"We started looking for local solutions. We took liquid detergents and mixed it with some ash. Eventually we succeeded in fighting it off but the damage was already done. I lost about 50 per cent of my crop, others lost 70 per cent."
"We were using local innovations but it was more like guesswork."
This year, Mr Ngoda said he was better prepared thanks to training in detection and responsible pesticide use provided by the county government and NGOs such as Farm Input Promotions Africa (FIPs-Africa). He said he had applied pesticide to his crops once so far.
CropLife Kenya organises popular county farmer training sessions every month and CABI has more than 120 Plantwise clinics across Kenya where smallholders can bring in samples of their damaged crop to get expert advice on the necessary remedy.