LIVELIHOODS AT RISK

Tharaka farmers delay planting over fears of locust invasion

Say more of the insects eggs are underground and are yet to hatch.

In Summary

• Most farmers across Kitui county have already prepared their farms while others have planted their seedlings in the wake of the ongoing rains.

• Gatoroni farmer Rose Mwende said that she does not have money to purchase seeds to plant after her crops were destroyed by locusts.

Farmers from Gatoroni area of Kitui have said they will not risk planting for the new season because large numbers of locust nymphs were hatched in their farms. 

The farmers are afraid their crops will be ravaged by the insects as soon as they sprout, destroying their livelihoods. 

Most farmers across Kitui county have already prepared their farms while others have planted their seedlings in the wake of the ongoing rains.

Gatoroni farmer Rose Mwende said that she does not have money to purchase seeds to plant after her crops were destroyed by locusts.

“The insects found my green grams, sorghum, and millet still fresh and ravaged them all, leaving me with nothing to harvest,” Mwende said.

The farmer also said that they are now forced to buy cereals from shops unlike before when after harvesting they had plenty of food to feed their families.

“It is quite unfortunate that while we experienced sufficient rainfall, we have nothing in our stores to feed our families owing to locusts’ invasion,” Mwende said.  

 Mwende said that she will not cultivate her shamba ahead of planting season while there are more locust eggs underground that are yet to hatch.

“We urge the government to continue with the nymph spraying as more eggs are hatching even after spraying,” Mwende said.  

Tharaka farmer Rose Mwende said she will not prepare her farm ahead of the planting season citing fears that locusts might invade again.
NO PLANTING: Tharaka farmer Rose Mwende said she will not prepare her farm ahead of the planting season citing fears that locusts might invade again.
Image: LINAH MUSANGI

Robert Muthengi, a large-scale tomato farmer, said that he did not wish to farm during this season as he feared his plantation would be ravaged by locusts.

However, owing to harsh economic times, Muthengi whose main livelihood is in agribusiness decided to risk by planting tomato seedlings worth Sh34,000.

“I just hope that the insects will not eat my tomatoes up for I depend on selling them to cater to my family’s needs,” Muthengi said.

Muthengi was lucky to have escaped the locust invasion last season as he had completed harvesting his tomatoes.

But his other crops like pigeon peas, green grams, cowpeas were destroyed.

Robert Muthengi a large scale tomato farmer said he risked 34,000 shillings in seedlings in the hope locusts will not invade his farm.
CAUTIOUS: Robert Muthengi a large scale tomato farmer said he risked 34,000 shillings in seedlings in the hope locusts will not invade his farm.
Image: LINAH MUSANGI

Mwanzia Kilonzi, another farmer from Tharaka, also said that he will skip planting this season for fear of the insects. 

“Why would I plant knowing locusts would eat my crops?” Mwanzia asked.

Kilonzi said that during this season, he will concentrate on herding his cattle and resume cultivation once he is certain that the locusts menace is completely averted.

Kitui Deputy Governor Wathe Nzau said that the county has completed locust nymph spraying.

Nzau said that they will monitor all breeding areas in case more nymph hatch for further spraying.

 

(edited by o. owino)

NYS servicemen who had been spraying locust nymphs in all breeding sites of Mwingi North subcounty
SUCCESSFUL: NYS servicemen who had been spraying locust nymphs in all breeding sites of Mwingi North subcounty
Image: LINAH MUSANGI