NAIROBI, KENYA: Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is sounding an alarm over widespread locusts in the coming months, a development that should worry relevant authorities.
In a statement, the organisation says as conditions remain dry in some parts of southern and northern Ethiopia and north-central Kenya, the swarms are likely to spread out looking for favourable areas to mature and lay eggs if rains fall in the coming weeks.
“This would give rise to hopper bands during February and March. Intense aerial and ground control operations are in progress to reduce the current swarms so that the scale of the upcoming breeding may be lower.”
According to the UN body, in the Horn of Africa, immature swarms continue to arrive and disperse throughout northern and central Kenya.
In the past two days, swarms have been reported in 10 counties (Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu, Laikipia, Meru North, Meru Central, and Tharaka). So far, only a few swarms have started to mature. In the southeast, fledging occurred near Taita Taveta and a few late instar hopper bands were present along the coast.
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The government recently downplayed claims that it does not have adequate funds to combat the second invasion of locusts.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the current cash shortage in government will not affect its plans to tackle the problem.
“We have adequate funding from last year’s budget to tackle this menace. The delayed disbursement of money by the national government will not affect our efforts in this war, we are adequately prepared,” he said.
FAO earlier said at least $33.8 million (Sh3.7 billion) in additional funding will be needed to adequately fight off the locusts to the month of June in East African countries and Yemen.
Desert locusts are considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world, devouring large areas of crops as well as pastures.
The first wave hit last year, leaving a trail of destruction and particularly worsening food insecurity in some parts of the country.
The locusts destroyed more than 2,400 tonnes of food in Tharaka Nithi County alone while Mandera, Wajir, and Isiolo counties were the most affected.