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Locusts now invade Turkana, West Pokot

Spraying of locusts ongoing in Mandera county after invasion by the pests since Boxing Day last year.

Swarms of desert locusts have invaded Turkana and West Pokot counties, ravaging vegetation in several places.

The locusts, which were first spotted early this month in the two neighbouring counties, are now posing a threat to food security in the semi-arid region.

In Turkana, the insects have invaded Lokwamosing in Turkana East Sub-county.

“The swarm split into two batches, with one moving to Katilia in Turkana East while the second landed at Loreamatet-Kerio in Turkana Central,” said Chuman Achuman, in a statement released from the Turkana County communication director.

He said the locusts have since spread to Elelea, Lotubae, Riet, Napeitom, Katioko, Naanguro, Kalapata, Kainuk and Koputiro. Other affected areas are Loyapat, Abur, Lore-amatet, Ngimurae, Kaemanik and Lorengippi.

“The aggressive feeding habits of these locusts can result in food shortage in the county. This heightens damages caused by existing Desert Locust menace, which the county continues to grapple with,” he said.

Mr Achuman said they have set up a locust control base to liaise with the multi-Institutional Techno Team formed by the national government.

“The team is in charge of response, reporting, coordination, mapping and surveillance as mobilisation and sensitisation of communities in preparation for aerial spraying to start this week starts,” he said.

He said the border areas of Turkana are remote and insecure and hence a potential breeding ground of Desert Locusts.

“We will continue to monitor, assess and give regular updates in the areas the Desert Locusts will be spotted. The public is therefore advised to be on high alert and immediately report any cases of locust invasion to hotline mobile numbers 0725970563, 0718988718 or 0714480405,” he said.

In West Pokot, the locusts have wreaked havoc on Talam, Mosop, Toghomo, Amolem, Akiriamet, Kaakong and Lomut villages, destroying crops, pasture and vegetation.

Pokot Central Deputy County Commissioner Simiyu Were said the invasion started last week and a team had been dispatched to affected areas.

“We are monitoring to present a comprehensive report for action and we are asking the locals to report any invasion,” said the DC.

Destroy crops

Weiwei irrigation scheme chairperson Mark Meut said the locusts have destroyed crops and shrubs in the scheme.

“The locusts have even destroyed mangoes and this is a threat to food security in the area. The crops had survived the deadly landslide recently,” he said.

Mr Meut said the locusts are disastrous to the pastoral community, who rely on vegetation to feed their livestock.

Agriculture Executive Joel Ngasia said county officers were on the ground.

“The Ministry of Agriculture will provide farmers with other methods they can engage in controlling the locusts,” he said.

David Kamama, a local, said residents were staring at a possible food crisis.

“Most locals here, being pastoralists, depend on vegetation for their livestock. Unfortunately, if we do not control them, the locusts might cause more havoc spelling doom to both animals and people,” he said.

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