SWARM OF TROUBLE

Locusts invasion to worsen food insecurity

Concerted efforts have contained two of the seven locust swarms, but extensive damage has already been done

In Summary

• The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned of a food crisis as they spread from eight counties

Locust Status and Forecast
Locust Status and Forecast
Image: FAO

The food security situation is likely to worsen in some parts of the country due to the desert locusts invasion.

So far, the locusts have been reported in eight counties including Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Meru and Laikipia.

The first swarm crossed the border into Kenya from Somalia on December 28. Other swarms continue coming in from Ethiopia.

The locusts are dangerous because of their ability to fly to over 100km a day propelled by the wind, and their decimation of flora, greatly jeopardising what farmers have planted and an economy dependent on agriculture.

 
 

Agriculture CS Peter Munya said during a media briefing on January 15 that the ministry has received Sh230 million from the National Treasury to control the desert locusts.

He said the money would be used to hire three more aircraft that would be used to cover Garissa, Mandera and Marsabit counties.  

He said the government will also deploy three surveillance helicopters from the Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Services to help in the efforts to reduce further spread.

The CS also said that so far, the government has provided 4,700 litres of chemical to four affected counties, namely Wajir, Marsabit, Mandera and Isiolo.  

 “There will be distribution of an additional 20,000 litres of control pesticides and continuous capacity building of county field officers. A total of 145 officers from the eight counties have been trained and deployed to do surveillance and monitoring of the pests,” he said.

Munya said through the concerted efforts, they have been able to control two of the seven locust swarms that have been sighted across the affected areas.

“I assure Kenyans that the government is in control of the situation as most of the swarms have been controlled. The remaining five swarms are being monitored very closely,” Munya said.

 
 

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's January desert locust situation update, the locusts could be heading to Baringo and Turkana counties, but the government is yet to confirm any sighting of the locusts in the two counties.

To coordinate the exercise, the ministry has set up a multi-stakeholder command and communication centre at the Ministry of Agriculture in Kilimo House. The stakeholders include Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, Pest Control Products Board, University of Nairobi and the Desert Locust Control Organisation of East Africa, FAO and ICIPE.