Treasury has released Sh30 million to help fight the locust menace which is now experienced in eight counties.
Speaking at his first press conference since appointment as Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Peter Munya said the government is in control and the locust problem will soon end.
“We are adding more resources to contain the problem in key areas of Marsabit, Isiolo and Mandera,” he said adding that the government has hired three more aircraft to be deployed tomorrow (Thursday).
The locust started crossing the border of Ethiopia and Somalia into Kenya late last month. They have so far invaded eight counties of Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Meru, Samburu and Laikipia.
There are no figures yet on the amount of destruction the locusts have occasioned in Kenya so far, but they have destroyed 175,000 acres of farmland in Somalia and Ethiopia according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The locust invasion is considered a disaster as they can cause widespread famine in a short time. Part of an average swarm can eat the same amount of food in one day as about 10 elephants, 25 camels, or 2,500 people, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory.
“The swarms of locusts are feeding in a non-discriminatory manner on the green matter. This will bring famine to both humans and animals,” said Timothy Munywoki, senior agronomist at Amiran Kenya Limited in charge of crop protection and product development.
Mr Munywoki said the number of aircraft being used to spray the locusts were too few and would give room for the pests to migrate. “Controlling them will be a challenge unless the government increases capitation and tools to control the pests,” he said.
Kenya had a locust invasion in 2007 but the situation was contained. The last time the country had a locust invasion that was similarly threatening was in 1961. The Desert Locust Control Organisation for Eastern Africa (DLCO-EA) was formed in 1962 in response to the plague and that of the 1940s that ravaged the Eastern Africa region, causing massive hunger and deaths across the region.