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Farmers stare at losses as locusts continue to ravage crops

By Grace Chomba

Farmers in Mbui village, Kirinyaga County, have been left in shock after the ongoing locusts invaded their rice farm. The locusts have continued to wreak havoc in different counties in the country.

The rice farmers have decried the invasion of locusts in their fields which they have to deal with alongside with the birds that invade their farms too.

The destructive desert locusts have already attacked counties such as Isiolo, Mandera, Marsabit, Garissa, Samburu, Tana-River, Laikipia, Meru, Baringo, Turkana, Wajir, Tharaka-Nithi, Machakos, Embu, Makueni, Kajiado, Murang’a and Kitui.

This comes as a blow as the country is also fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to a Local TV station, Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga said the government had assigned the National Youth Service (NYS) personnel team in the already affected counties to help in tracking the locusts.

The PS also added that spraying cannot go on with the ongoing rains as it would be chemical wastage.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United States (FAO) handed over three planes to the Kenyan government in efforts to help fight the menace.

The organisation is also conducting a rapid assessment on the locust impact on pastoral livelihoods as part of recovery projections and preparations. This is to ensure there is food security and zero hunger in the affected countries.

FAO warns the current situation in East Africa is quite alarming since more swarms are forming in northern and central Kenya, southern Ethiopia and maybe in Somalia.

According to FAO, this lays a distinctive risk to food security and livelihoods as it occurs simultaneously with the beginning of the long rains and the planting season.

The rain season that commenced in late March is said to allow the new swarms to mature and lay eggs.

Some of the locusts moved from Kenya to Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Henceforth, during May the laid eggs will hatch into hopper bands that will form new swarms in late June and July, which is the harvest period.

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