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Country losing fight against locusts- experts

Health & Science - By Antony Gitonga | December 13th 2020 at 02:21:24 GMT +0300

NYS servicemen from Gilgil barracks are being taken through the process of fighting desert locusts which have currently invaded seventeen counties in the country. The NYS officers were used in ground spraying in six counties to contain the spreading pests. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The use of pesticides in containing the spread of locust invasion is turning out to be ineffective and a threat to the environment.

Experts are now calling for biological methods of controlling the pests which have invaded parts of the country for the second time leaving a trail of destruction.

This emerged during the ongoing National Research Fund (NRF) retreat in Naivasha which has brought together scientists from different universities and organisations.

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According to Principal Secretary for University Education and Research Amb Samson Nabukwesi, it is becoming harder to control the locusts that are spreading at an alarming rate.

While challenging the scientists to seek new methods of controlling the locusts, the PS admitted that the current use of pesticides is not effective.

“We should engage our scientists to seek new biological methods of controlling the locusts which are reproducing very fast,” he said.

He said that a lot of manpower is required to control the locusts and challenged the researchers to come up with pesticides that are environmentally friendly.

He admitted that funding was a major challenge mainly in the universities after the government slashed funding to the institutions.

James Njoroge sprays longhorn grasshoppers in his maize farm at Riandira Village in Kirinyaga.[File, Standard]

“Currently the National Research Fund is working on a strategy on resource mobilisation and our universities are doing a lot in terms of research,” he said.

Nabukwesi added that the National Research Fund is currently studying the effects of Covid-19, Cancer, supporting visually impaired minors and locust invasion.

“The National Research Fund is also working on food security in some counties and assisting minors who have challenges in hearing and seeing to communicate through technology,” he said.

National Research Fund CEO Dr Jemima Onsare admitted that funding and personnel is still a challenge to the newly-formed organisation.

However, Onsare added that they had embarked on the process of mobilising funds for various ongoing projects.

“The country has high potential in the field of research and all that our scientists require is funding and the findings can be commercialized,” she said.

Last month, Agriculture CS Peter Munya announced that the country would this month face a new wave of locust invasion from Somalia.

“We have activated all our bases in Wajir and sent more NYS personnel to conduct ground and aerial spray having received 216,000 litres of pesticide,” he said.

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