INVASION

State to use Sh254m to fight desert locusts invasion

The insects have attacked vegetation in six counties in the arid and semi-arid areas

In Summary

• The ministry has already received Sh50 million from the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

• More funds from the state's emergency kitty are expected to be received within a week.

Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri, CAS Andrew Tuimur, Eastern Africa Desert Locust Control Director Stephen Njoka during a press conference at Kilimo House, Nairobi.
Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri, CAS Andrew Tuimur, Eastern Africa Desert Locust Control Director Stephen Njoka during a press conference at Kilimo House, Nairobi.
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

The government will use Sh254 million to fight locust invasion in the country, Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri has said.

The ministry has already received Sh50 million from the Food and Agriculture Organisation to help contain the spread of the desert locusts. 

More funds from the state's emergency kitty are expected to be received within a week.

 

“We recognise that the pest invasion and potential to spread rapidly to other counties pose unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in the country,” Kinjuri said.

A multi-stakeholder team and command centre have already been set up at the ministry headquarters.  

The team comprises Kalro, Kephis, Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), University of Nairobi, Desert Locust Control Organisation of East Africa, FAO and Icipe.

The centre will operate daily until as late as 9pm to assess the situation on the ground and keep records.

The desert locusts have attacked vegetation in six counties in the arid and semi-arid areas.

Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa,Isiolo have been affected, with reports received Friday indicating the insects had spread to Samburu and Meru counties.

In Mandera county, the invasion has affected parts of Mandera South, Lafey and Mandera East subcounties.

 

In Wajir, Kotulo and Ngirifitu are the worst hit while Dabaab subcounty in Garissa is also affected.

In Marsabit, areas invaded are Misa Dirima, Watiti and Eladu areas of Moyale subcounty while the Isiolo invasion has affected Kulamawe area in Garbatula subcounty.

“We are very keen on the safety of insecticides being used and I can confirm that they are ultra-low volume sprays which are released in very little doses for long distances but still very effective,” said Stephen Njoka, director Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa.

There are no figures yet on the amount of destruction the locusts have caused in the country.

But the FAO estimates the locusts have destroyed 175,000 acres of farmland in neighbouring Somalia and Ethiopia.

“Desert locusts travel in big swarms which can have between 40 million and 60 million insects thus harvesting them for consumption might be curative but not effective,” Njoka added. 

Kiunjuri said the first swarm crossed the border into Kenya from Somalia on December 28 last year.

Other swarms came in from Ethiopia with additional ones from Somalia, the CS said. 

The government dispatched a second air spray aircraft to Isiolo county to reinforce the operations. A third one will be released mid next week.

The government has also distributed 4,000 litres of pesticides to counties affected by the invasion.

 Three vehicle mounted sprayers, 20 motorised knapsack sprayers, 50 hand-held ultra low volume sprayers and 175 personal protective equipment have also been distributed.