Kenya: Munya Upbeat About Locust Elimination Despite Setbacks

Locusts can devastate crops and pastures.
18 January 2020

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has reiterated the government's commitment to containing the desert locusts invasion amid challenges in aerial spraying.

So far, swarms have spread to Isiolo, Samburu, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Laikipia and Mandera counties.

The CS, who supervised spraying in Isiolo and Samburu on Friday and Saturday, said the government had purchased Fenitrothione chemicals enough for the counties.

He admitted Thursday that use of ineffective pesticides had hampered the exercise and said effective ones would be delivered the next day.

However, 800 litres of previously used Malathion 90 % ULV were delivered.

CHALLENGES

The locusts at Kipsing and Shaba in Isiolo, and Ndonyo Wamba in Samburu, were still active on Friday afternoon despite spraying with Malathion earlier in the day.

It is believed this prompted delivery of 5,500 litres of Fenitrothione that evening ahead of spraying on Saturday at Kipsing, Shaba, Lenguruma and Maibei.

Fresh invasions were reported in Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit and Mandera yet the CS had assured that the insects would be eliminated in a week.

Mr Munya remains confident.

"We think we are in total control now and do not see much danger in terms of the locusts crossing over to farmlands," he said.

"We have enough supplies of quick acting chemicals and in fact, the locusts have started dying and others have been weakened after spraying this morning."

WORRY

Wajir County officials complained earlier, noting that the swarms would spread given aircraft could not be flown to areas prone to attacks by terror group Al-Shabaab.

On Thursday, swarms entered the country through El Wak and migrated to Lafey and Damasa in Mandera.

They later split into groups believed to have been spotted at Orahey and Billa villages along the Wajir-Garissa border.

Other swarms were on Friday spotted at Garufa in Lagdera, Garissa County.

An agriculture officer in Mandera, who did not want to be named, faulted the national government, claiming the county had not received any assistance.

He said, "We have been spraying the locusts manually and it's the county that has been shouldering the cost."

AIRCRAFT

Mr Munya said two planes stationed in Isiolo and Samburu will be flown to Marsabit on Sunday for reinforcement.

"Chemicals are being transported by road to Marsabit and two of the planes that were being used in Isiolo will be stocked for spraying on Sunday," the CS told journalists at Isiolo International Airport.

He added that there will also be reinforcement in Wajir, which is using an aircraft provided by the Desert Locust Control Organisation (DLCO).

The reinforcement, the CS noted said, will help in countering the pests at border entry points.

"We have the capacity to contain the situation. We will continue dealing the situation until the locust season, expected to last three months, is over," he said.

TRAINING

Regarding training, the minister said the government will continue allocating resources for the public to learn how to deal with situations such as this.

Ten officers from eight counties affected by the locust invasion have been trained on tracking and reporting, he said.

"We will soon train representatives from 11 counties on monitoring and pest control to improve our disaster preparedness,"

DLCO's Director, Dr Stephen Njoka, dismissed reports that the chemicals had negative effects on the environment, saying they are safe for people and livestock.

"We, however, advise people to keep off and avoid grazing their animals in sprayed areas for at least three hours," said Dr Njoka, who accompanied the CS.

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