Govt to spare no efforts to ensure desert locusts are eliminated

Written By: Asha Hamisi/KNA

The second wave of desert locusts invaded the country last November from two neighbouring countries.

The government says immature swarms of locusts continue to persist mainly in Northern and Central counties.

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Speaking during a desert locusts control fields trip in Isiolo County, the Government Spokesperson, Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna, said to reduce the next generation of breeding, ground and aerial control operations are focusing on the swarms before they can mature and lay.

Oguna said the government will spare no efforts to ensure locusts are eliminated.

” This is the first time in 70 years that locusts have invaded our country and the Government is fully committed to ensure we contain and eradicate the situation for the sake of our food security.” He said

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” Kenya largely dealt with the first wave of the locust invasion. This second wave has found us prepared and well equipped to save our food security.” He added

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Adding that the government has partnered with local administration in the interventions to support in the desert locust control process.

” The Government has been conducting pesticide spraying exercises in the affected farms. Local administrators have been helpful in educating the citizens whose farms have been sprayed on the do’s and don’ts when farms are sprayed with the pesticide.” Noted Oguna

In the past five days, swarms have been reported in 15 counties: Madera, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Samburu, Isiolo, Meru, Tharaka, Tana River and Kilifi. Others are Kitui, Machakos, Laikipia, Nakuru and Nyandarua Counties.

According to UN-Food and Agriculture Organisation, the number of swarms arriving from the north continues to decline.

Last week, Oguna explained that about 203 swarms had been sighted since the outbreak with 121 swarms having been contained already, thereby reducing the magnitude of possible damage by the pests.

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Oguna further said that the National Government is working in partnership with the FAO, World Bank, County Governments, Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and the Desert Locust Control Organisation for Eastern Africa (DLCO-EA) among other stakeholders to contain the situation.

“The Government has deployed all interventions to contain the situation including collaborating with other development partners such as FAO, World Bank through Emergency Locust Response Program (ELRP) and County Governments,” he said.

Oguna stated that among other key interventions that the government has deployed include Nine Control Bases (for ground and aerial activities) have been established in the Wajir, Isiolo, Marsabit, Masinga, Garissa, Turkana-Lodwar, Mandera, Lamu-Witu, Kitui.

The Government spokesman affirmed that the Government also has enough pesticide for the control, with currently, there is a balance of 320, 000 litres of assorted pesticide.

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“The pests control operation has largely been successful in reducing the magnitude of damage caused by the pest and the Government is committed to ensuring total eradication of the pests to ensure food security for all Kenyans,” Oguna stated.

“Current reports indicate that so far, about 183 swarms have settled in the country and of this 157 have been controlled reflecting an 86 percent success rate in control efforts,” he added.

FAO’s Desert Locust Information Office (DLIS) have predicted that swarms are expected to invade and settle in the months of February and March.

The locusts initially invaded the counties of Wajir, Garissa, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Samburu, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Machakos, Isiolo, Tana River, Marsabit, Kilifi and Mandera. Recently, six more counties of Kitui, Laikipia, Meru, Makueni, Kajiado and Nyandarua have sighted movement of some swarms.

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