State aerial-sprays invading birds to cut farmers’ losses
By Githinji Mwangi
Rice farmers in Mwea, Kirinyaga, are a happy lot after the National and County governments carried out an aerial spraying to eliminate millions of quelea birds that have descended on their crop.
Kirinyaga Deputy Governor Peter Ndambiri said eight million birds are reported to have invaded the area this season.
Addressing the press after overseeing the exercise on Friday, Ndambiri said farmers were staring at an average destruction of 72,000kgs of rice per day.
He added that the county government is working with growers to control the bird invasion, which he termed as a major threat to food security in the country.
Accompanied by farmers and senior county officials, Ndambiri said spraying would continue for the next three days to ensure the birds are eliminated from the scheme.
“We will have the plane to carry out daily spraying for the next three days; we can’t allow the birds to destroy farmers’ produce,’’ he said.
The voracious quelea bird, which measures about 12cm in length and weighs 15-26g, is known to invade the expansive rice irrigation scheme annually.
One bird consumes an average of 10g of grain a day.
The deputy governor also appealed to the National government to ban importation of rice during the harvesting season, saying a kilogramme of rice is currently selling at Sh60 since the market is flooded with imported rice.
“Let (the) government buy our rice to feed our soldiers and those training as police officers; they should stop importing rice to feed our security forces,’’ he said.