MASSIVE DESTRUCTION

Locust invasion in Wajir not yet over, says county officer

County has liaised with the National Plant Protection Directorate in the fight against the locusts.

In Summary

• He said the county has suffered massive destruction amounting to 250,000 hectares of forage in Buna in Wajir North and 15,000 hectares of food crops.

• The county has undertaken to train Agriculture department staff and carry out community sensitisation in measures to combat the pests.

A Wajir agriculture officer sprays a swam of locusts in Buna, Wajir North, on Saturday.
LOCUSTS: A Wajir agriculture officer sprays a swam of locusts in Buna, Wajir North, on Saturday.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

 Wajir Agriculture executive Ahmed Shariff on Wednesday said locust invasion in the county has yet to stop.

He said the county has suffered massive destruction amounting to thousands of acres of forage and food crops. Shariff spoke during a forum to assess the impact of the October-December short rain season at the National Disaster Management Authority Hall in Wajir town.

He said that to mitigate against the losses, the county has undertaken to train Agriculture department staff, carry out community sensitisation in measures to combat the pests by employing traditional methods such as chasing away the locusts and spraying chemicals. The sensitisation has also been carried out in the media at the local and national level.

“We have also liaised with the National Plant Protection Directorate in the fight against the locusts. However, there is a need for more funds to be allocated to facilitate staff in the war on the pestilential pest and enhance air surveillance," Shariff said.

He called for the allocation of more resources and increased aerial surveillance to locate new swarms flying in from Somalia so they can be sprayed to avoid spread.

County commissioner Jacob Narengo said aerial spraying has been carried out using both a military fixed-wing aeroplane and one provided by the East Africa Locust Control Centre.

"The spraying has been carried out in Wajir South, Wajir North and Wajir West, with the latest exercise being carried out in Wajir West," he said.

The administrator hailed efforts by the county to fight the locusts.

"Getting rid of locusts and ensuring proper utilisation of resources at the county and national level will ensure farmers benefit from the accruing suitable environment to practise either livestock rearing and crop planting, which will ensure food security in the county that will in turn spill over to other parts of the country," Narengo said.

Last week, Governor Mohamed Abdi appealed for collaboration in countering the locusts, which he described as a threat to food security.

"As it stands, the national and county governments remain ill-equipped and ill-prepared, poorly resourced to undertake surveillance and control to contain the locust invasion in our country. It is for this reason that we are calling for more support," Abdi said.

Locusts arrived in the county on December 29, 2019, flying from Somalia via Kotulo in Tarbaj subcounty. Another swarm came through Diff at Dadajabulla in Wajir South subcounty, while another swarm crossed in from Mandera via Takaba. Some 54 swarms have crossed into the county while three were driven away.