FARMS RAVAGED

NYS servicemen in Kitui to bolster desert locust crackdown

County has been using vehicle-mounted and handheld sprayers to fight the insects.

In Summary

• The locust have swarmed Kitui for the past three weeks.

• The NYS personnel are expected to us ULV technology to kill the insects. 

A warm of locust in Museve area of Kitui Central last week.
INVASION: A warm of locust in Museve area of Kitui Central last week.
Image: MUSEMBI NZENGU

The Kitui government has enlisted NYS servicemen to battle desert locusts that have swarmed the county for nearly three weeks since late January.

Governor Charity Ngilu told a County Executive Committee meeting on Thursday that a crackdown on the ravenous insects using vehicle-mounted and handheld sprayers are still on course.

Ngilu said going forward the exercise will be intensified and will feature 50 National Youth Service servicemen who arrived in the county on Wednesday from Kilifi. 

The involvement of the NYS comes at a time when there are widespread fears that the locusts have overstayed in Kitui and are likely to start mating and breeding as they reach maturity age.

According to a dispatch from Ngilu’s communications office, the enhanced spraying will cover Endau Malalani and Mutitu Kaliku in Kitui East as another team moves to Muumoni and Kyuso in Mwingi North and Kivou in Mwingi Central.

Earlier, Deputy Governor Wathe Nzau, who had been coordinating spraying, said the NYS officers will use the more effective ultra-low volume technology to decimate the locusts. The exercise had turned into a circus as the insects shifted from one area to another. 

On Thursday, Ngilu said equipment, including protective gear, to be used was expected to be delivered from Nairobi to kick-start the exercise.

The insects on January 29 invaded farms in Mui, Kyome-Thaana Nzau and Nguni in Mwingi before spreading to other areas even as the county government partnered with Food Agriculture Organization initiated ground operations.

The locusts have since spread to Kitui South, Kitui Central, Mwingi West, Mwingi Central and other rural areas.

“Spraying the locust with vehicle-mounted sprayers is not sufficiently effective. Kitui is a very vast county and vehicles cannot move at the same speed with locusts that are shifting from one area to the other, to be able to decimate them. There is a need for aerial spraying,” said a resident, who identified himself as Ndotto.

He spoke after a swarm of locust invaded his horticultural farm in Kyamathyaka village, Kyangwithya West. However, the team charged with operation arrived just in time to spray the locusts before they caused substantial damage.