Kiunjuri admits locust challenge, maintains situation under control
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri on Friday admitted the ongoing locust menace is a big challenge but maintained that the government is up to the task to eradicate them.
Flanked by Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Andrew Tuimur and Principal Secretary State Department for Crop Development & Agricultural Research Hamadi Boga, Kiunjuri outlined various measures the government has put in place to address the nightmare which has affected most counties in the North- Eastern region with Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit the most affected regions.
Isiolo, Garissa and Samburu counties have also been affected.
"Even if we are eradicating them in Kenya, others are still coming in making it so difficult for us.The biggest challenge we are have is that these insects are coming from our neighboring countries of Ethiopia and Somalia. To fight them we must use a trans boundary strategy to ensure they are attacked from their resting habitats,” said Kiunjuri.
The government had targeted to wipe out locusts in North Eastern within two weeks.
He said the government has distributed 4,000 litres of pesticides to counties affected by the invasion.
Three vehicle mounted sprayers, 20 motorised knapsack sprayers, 50 hand-held ultra low volume sprayers and 175 personal protective equipment have also been distributed.
Director, Desert Locust Control Organisation, East Africa Dr Stephen Njoka clarified that the pesticides used are of high quality and don't pose in any threat to humans.
Kiunjuri added that the government has further organised an emergency training for key officers from a multi stakeholder task force, who will be deployed to the affected counties to boost on the ground and aerial control measures.
"The multi stakeholder task force from our various agencies KARLO, KEPHIS and FAO is also on high alert and is monitoring the situation in Kenya as well as from the region," Kiunjuri added.
He urged residents of affected counties to remain vigilant and work with the national and county government officers on the ground to relay information that will help monitor the situation.
“If you see any insect that you suspect could be a locust, take a picture and post on social media so we can confirm for you what insect it really is,” he said.
The government further plans to acquire the third aircraft for air spraying and more chemicals by Wednesday to boost the exercise.
The CS has however dismissed reports that the desert locusts are in Meru.
Kiunjuri said what was reported in Meru yesterday are long-horned variegated grasshoppers that are normally with us but they have multiplied because of the extreme weather changes.
The CS however averred that the insects pose unprecedented threats to food security, noting that the Government responded quickly with several interventions including aerial control.