State says locust menace wave well contained
The government has announced that it has managed to contain the first wave of desert locust invasion that had affected 28 counties.
However, the State has issued an alert that the country could be hit by the second wave of locusts next month from Somali where the pest is currently wreaking havoc.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya says studies had indicated that the destructive pests would invade the country from Central Somali.
Munya said his ministry had put in place measures to contain the spread of the pest mainly in counties bordering Somali.
“Our projections are that the country will be hit by a second wave of desert locust invasion by mid-December and we have to put in place measures to contain them,” he said.
He said that the government and development partners including FAO had set aside Sh3.2b to deal with the crisis and caution farmers.
“We have activated all our bases in Wajir and sent more NYS personnel to conduct ground and aerial spray having received 216,000 litres of pesticide,” he said.
Addressing the media in Enashipai Spa in Naivasha, he assured farmers that there was nothing to get worried about as the first invasion had prepared them.
“Currently some swarms of the desert locust have been spotted in Taita Taveta County and our teams have started spraying them,” he said.
Munya noted that the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic early in the year had affected measures to contain the deadly pest.
On the first invasion, he said that some counties had not fully recovered with swarms being recorded in Suguta Valley in Samburu County.
“Other counties that have remnants of this pest are Wajir and Mandera but this can be managed and they are not harmful,” he said.
While thanking FAO for the continued support, he said that fight against the pest would be won if all the neighbouring countries worked as one team.
“We now have the experience, capacity and enough pesticides to deal with the second wave if it hits us,” he said.
On her part, FAO Country Representative Carla Mucavi said that there was a plan of action and funds to deal with the second wave with the locusts already spotted in Somali.
Supporting the fight
“Previously we had challenges but we now have experiences and FAO is committed to supporting this fight so that the country can have food security,” she said.
Munya was responding to FAO’s recent warning of a pending desert locust invasion after sighting new breeding grounds in eastern Ethiopia and central Somalia.
The new swarms are expected to fly south to Kenya from mid-November and mid-December, according to FAO.
Munya said that the government is working closely with the KDF in spraying the affected regions.
He revealed that COVID-19 restriction measures, locust invasion, and flooding in parts of the country have interfered with food production and transportation in the country.
“Improved performance of agriculture, forestry, and fishing activities have cushioned the national economy from further decline during the period that the country faced three problems,” he added.
The UN food agency has so far trained 160 surveillance scouts who will use the online Locust 3m app to report desert locust sightings and plans to increase the pool of desert locust experts by training 20 young professionals across the country.