How to battle out ragging swarm of desert locust –avoiding environmental hazards from pesticides

A locust. Image|Courtesy

Locusts pose a great danger to food security when they invade an area. Over the years, farmers have counted losses owing to desert locust invasion in their farms, destroying crops which end up yielding low or not at all.

Over the past few weeks, locusts have invaded farms in North Eastern parts of Kenya, including areas of Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit and Garissa.

The government resorted on the use of pesticides after farmers cried foul of desperate measures to repel the insects that have been threatening food security in the area.

Wajir Deputy Governor Ahmed Muktar, who was on the supervisory team overseeing the aerial spraying, cautioned residents to keep away from the covered areas to avoid contracting diseases from the pesticide.

About 3,000 litres of pesticides was acquired to get rid of the insects, as government spokesman Cyrus Oguna assures the public that the pesticides do not pose any threat to their health if used according to the guidelines.

However, to avoid posing danger to the environment and the risk of contracting disease to the locals, News 9 Kenya looks at the possible way of dealing with the menace biologically.

Birds

Reports show birds are the most essential biological means of fighting locusts. China is one the country that has ever used birds to control a swarm of locusts invading farmers’ crops.

The country resorted to this measure after realizing the threat aerial pesticide spraying pose to the environment.

According to Xinhuanet, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region used an army of birts to combat locusts that had invaded more than 392,000 hectares of pasture in Tacheng Prefecture along the China-Kazakhstan border in 2017.

The country set up nests in mountainous areas and grasslands to attract more than 50,000 migrating rosy starlings’ birds, which pry on locusts, and about 85,000 special chickens deployed to battle out the locusts.

 

See also: 10 perish in a tragic road accident on Garissa-Nairobi road

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