LOCUST UPDATE

Kenya likely to be free of locusts in three weeks, says FAO

There are only a few swarms in Samburu and in Turkana near Uganda

In Summary

• There has been a remarkable decline since February when 29 counties had reported swarms of the destructive insects.

• The UN agency cautions that there is a need for careful and continued surveillance to prevent re-infestation towards the end of the year.

Desert locusts in northeastern Kenya after crossing from Somalia in December last year.
VORACIOUS PESTS: Desert locusts in northeastern Kenya after crossing from Somalia in December last year.
Image: COURTESY

Kenya will be free of large-scale desert locust infestations in the next three weeks, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s locust watch update released on Wednesday.

Only parts of Samburu near Ethiopia and Turkana near Uganda have locusts, a remarkable decline since February when 29 counties had reported swarms of the destructive insects.

“We have made significant progress in a number of countries, especially in Kenya," Cyril Ferrand of FAO’s Resilience Team Leaders for East Africa said in the update.

He said swarms of immature locusts in the two counties are migrating to Ethiopia.

“In the coming days, that will drop to one county," Ferrand said, adding cautiously that there is a need for careful and continued surveillance to prevent re-infestation towards the end of the year.

The United Nations agency is fighting the second generation of desert locusts.

Ferrand said control operations are now centred in Turkana.

“We recently saw sorghum crops with around 15 to 20 per cent damage or reduction of yield in Turkana county due to the locust infestation. The multiple layers of threats that these communities have been facing is a significant concern and a source of acute food insecurity in the region bearing in mind that we have had a series of droughts since 2016.”

He said Ethiopia is still infested with a second breeding generation and partly re-infested by swarms from Kenya.

“A lot of work has been done in Ethiopia. Unfortunately the battle will continue there until the end of the year. In Somalia we are also making progress despite security issues. Breeding is expected in the north,” he said.

The update says immature swarms have started to mature in the Northern Plateau of Somalia.

“In Sudan, low numbers of solitarious mature adults are between Eritrea and North Kordofan while mainly immature adults are present further north in the Nile Valley. Intensive surveys are in progress,” the locust update states.

 

- mwaniki fm