State enlists National Youth Service to contain locusts

Friday, February 14th, 2020 00:00 |
NYS servicemen from Gilgil are taken through the process of fighting desert locusts which have currently invaded 17 counties in the country. Photo/PD/KIRERA MWITI

Kirera Mwiti and KNA

The government has now sought the services of the National Youth Service in a bid to contain the destructive desert locusts that have invaded 17 counties. 

Under a joint partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 600 NYS servicemen will be used in ground spraying as the pests continued to spread to neighbouring countries.  

This emerged yesterday during the launch of the training programme for the servicemen in NYS training college in Gilgil. 

According to the administration secretary in the State Department of Crops Kello Harsama, the pest was a major threat to food security. 

He noted that ongoing efforts to use aerial spraying had not been successful hence the need to use ground spraying using the NYS officers. 

“In December last year only three counties were affected but this has risen to 17 meaning 75 per cent of landmass is under threat from this pest,” he said. 

Harsama said the ground exercise would be carried out in Isiolo, Turkana, Machakos, Marsabit, Garissa and Wajir. 

“We have been using aerial spraying for the last three months and this has not effective and we have decided to use ground spraying as it’s more effective,” he said. 

According to FAO country-representative in the country Dr Tobias Takavarasha, the desert locust had already invaded six countries with Somali and Ethiopia been the hardest hit. 

“Apart from Kenya, other affected countries are Uganda, Tanzania, Yemen, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somali and hence the need for urgent action,” he said. 

He said the food organisation was keen to support the country through funding, capacity building, provision of information and offering expertise in containing the spread of the locusts. 

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