A Study of the African White Rice Stem Borer (Maliarpha separatella Rag.) Population Density Fluctuations at Mwea Irrigation Scheme in Central Kenya
The African white rice stem borer (Maliarpha separatella Ragonot) is a major pest of rice in Kenya. To understand and develop appropriate management packages, its population dynamics were studied at Mwea irrigation scheme in Central Kenya. This was for two wet and two dry periods. Farmer fields located in different parts of the scheme and outside the scheme were sampled every fortnight. Farms sampled represented five water provision schedules (System of Rice intensification (SRI), rain fed, flood irrigated, sporadic irrigation, and fallow period). Five planting regimes (on season, off season double cropping, ratoon, and late planting) and three management styles (controlled by National Irrigation Board (N.I.B), not controlled by N.I.B and out-growers) were studied. During each sampling, a 1mx1m quadrant was used randomly and pest counted on all the plants within the quadrant. Results showed that the number of M. separatella varied significantly (p<0.05) in the scheme. Pest densities were highest in off season planted rice (13.1). High numbers were also found in Non N.I.B controlled fields with sporadic irrigation (8.1) and the lowest in the N.I.B, fallow (2.5) and this was significant (p<0.05). There were no significant differences in pest infestations on the normal season crop (0.3) and the ratoon crop (0.6) p<0.05 and SRI and conventional irrigated fields (p<0.05). From the results it is recommended that off season planting of rice be discouraged and that efforts are made to ensure that farmers synchronize planting dates and other cultural practices for the crop, within the scheme and in rice farms outside the scheme.