The government on Thursday released a statement stating the current state of locust invasion in Kenya and the measures that have been put in place to combat the situation.
Government spokesman RTD Col. Cyrus Oguna said the state has stepped up efforts to mitigate the Desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria), which have so far invaded eight counties, causing serious damage to plants.
The locust swarm entered the country via El Wak region in Mandera County on December 28, 2019 –invading the northern parts of the country including other counties of Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Meru, Samburu and Laikipia.
This came even as the regions had just started recovering from prolonged drought and floods, which caused loss of lives and properties.
According to Mr. Oguna, the locusts feed on large quantities of any green material that include crops, pasture, fodder and browse, posing a threat to all green vegetation which can result into an ecological catastrophe.
The security of food in the country is also at stake owing to loss of food crops as well as loss of livestock.
The pests also pose danger on wildlife as they feed on all green vegetation and plants in the region
The spokesman said that the government has increased the number of team of experts deployed to the affected areas to train and mobilize the county ground teams to undertake monitoring and surveillance of the swarms in order for spraying activity to take place.
About 145 officers at the county level have been trained to undertake the spraying activities in the affected firms.
There are 7 spraying aircraft and 2 surveillance helicopters deployed in the operation –two from the Desert Locust Control Organization (DI-CO) of Eastern Africa, 2 hired by the Government, 3 from the private sector, 2 helicopters, each from International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRI-CO-CSA) and the private sector.
The government has also deployed three vehicles mounted with sprayers, 18 motorized knapsack sprayers, 50 hand-held UI-V sprayers, and 175 Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
An additional 4,700 litres of control pesticides for spraying of the locusts has been distributed in the affected areas.
“A Multi-agency team is working with the available expertise on locust control to drive strategies and guide the management of the locusts across the country. Members of the team include the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries & Cooperatives and its agencies, County Governments, FAO, University of Nairobi, ICIPE, Centre for Agricultural and Biosciences International and Joint Agriculture Secretariat,” read the statement in part.
Oguna added that as much as the government is taking up every measure to mitigate locusts, it calls upon all Kenyans to be vigilant and report to the nearest Government officials whenever the pest in sighted.
The spread of the pest has increased over the past few weeks, posing a great danger to other neighbouring counties in the country.