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Government urged to fund Kenyan universities in efforts fight locusts

By David Mutwiri and Monicah Nyagah

Men who work for a county disaster team wrestle with locusts, near the village of Sissia, Samburu. Photo: Patrick Ngugi

The government has been advised to equip Kenyan universities with facilities to study the desert locust invasion to derive a sustainable solution to the pests presently threatening food security in the country and the larger Horn of Africa.

According to the Chuka University Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof. Erastus Njoka, given a chance the universities will conduct research and come up with the best pesticides for the sustainable control of locusts in the long-run.

“Since the plague started, we have not heard the government introducing research programs in the universities. We should take advantage of research students in the universities to curb the continued spread of the menace and avoid such national disasters in future,” said Prof. Njoka.

Speaking during a careers day at Tharaka University College in Tharaka constituency, the VC said with proper research, universities could predict when or the season the pests might be appearing in future and come up with the best pesticides for their control.

The VC took the opportunity to warn drug dealers to keep off the university premises and even students and reiterated that the institution remains a drug-free zone.

He further called on the residents of Gatunga Township and its environs, where the Tharaka university college is located to take advantage of the institution set up businesses to benefit economically by building hostels and providing other necessities to the campus fraternity.

Prof. Njoka further reminded the residents of Tharaka Nithi County that they will have to compete effectively for employment opportunities at the university with the rest of Kenyans because institutions of higher learning countrywide are an equal opportunity employer where 70 per cent of the employees at their facility should come from outside the larger Meru region.

“Some people are taking advertisement for job opportunities at the university so casually with a misconceived idea that it will favour those hailing from the county or Meru County but this is not the case,” said the VC.

The  Tharaka University College located near Gatunga Township, the headquarters of Tharaka North Sub-county, is a constituent college of Chuka University. It was elevated to the status of a University College in July 2017.

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