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There are cheaper, innovative ways to tame locust menace

By Patricia Otieno | January 14th 2020

The Horn of Africa is under siege from locusts. According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the invasion is the worst in 25 years. The government used Sh300 million to spray Mandera and Wajir in an attempt to get rid of the locusts.

Locals have terribly failed with their methods, which included loud clangs of stones against pans, honking horns and chants. The fact that it is expensive to deal with locusts, especially in an area that has forever experienced water shortage, should not be taken as an excuse to let the insects destroy crops meant to feed a good number of people. 

The fact FAO says this is the worst attack in 25 years means there have been other attacks, only that they were never this severe. If there have been previous attacks, then it means we have been negligent in coming up with mechanisms to curb the threat the locusts pose. Nothing is hard provided that people are dedicated towards it.

If governments managed to deal with the minor attacks in the last 25 years, they are in a position to deal with the recent attack for when preparing for war, you prepare for the worst. This is the worst case scenario and they ought to have prepared for it. Furthermore, locusts are a delicacy among the Tswana and Swazi people in Africa.

Studies have shown that consuming locusts is good for the heart for they contain sterols, which have cholesterol-lowering properties that reduce heart diseases.

FAO and the government should draw inspiration from this and work even harder in dealing with these locusts. Instead of using expensive chemicals to kill the locusts, why don’t they look for means to trap them in masses?

We do not have the Tswana and Swazi people in Kenya and even though it might be hard to get this delicacy to them, it will only take sensitisation to get the people in the affected regions to start enjoying the delicacy.

In the process, they will be hunting locusts down. It will help control their number. The government should sensitise people and let them know that the locusts disturbing them can as well be turned into something edible.

We all know the state of Mandera and those parts close to the Horn of Africa. Food is often scarce. Let the people start feeding on locusts instead of chanting. Let them chant trying to trap and hunt the locusts down.

Doing so will be killing two birds with one stone. Government expenses will reduce and the people will get a source of food.

Letter to the Editor from Patricia Otieno, Kisumu

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