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More teams deployed to fight locust menace

By Jacqueline Mahugu | Jan 5th 2020 | 2 min read

The government yesterday started aerial spraying of the desert locusts that have invaded Wajir, Marsabit and Mandera counties.

Government spokesman Cyrus Oguna revealed that 3,000 litres of chemicals for spraying the locusts had been acquired and dispatched to the affected counties.

“Aerial spraying capacity has also been acquired and the aerial spraying will start today,” Mr Oguna said at a press conference yesterday. 

“The aircraft will be positioned in Wajir from where all the affected counties shall be sprayed.”

Ground Locust Support teams have also been deployed to the affected counties to monitor the situation and create awareness among the local communities.

Hand-held sprayers and protective gear have been distributed to trained teams within the county governments to help locate where the locusts hibernate and spray them from there.

The main control mechanism, however, will be the aerial spraying. “The chemicals to be used have been tested and registered and authorised for control of locust, and are not harmful if used according to the guidelines,” Oguna said.

New directive

These steps were taken following a meeting held by Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government on the president’s directive to deal with the situation.

It was attended by various agencies and the Desert Locust Control Organisation of East Africa (a regional UN affiliated organisation) to determine progress on containing the situation.

The locust invasion is a potential threat to food security, but Oguna said there was no cause to worry.

“The situation has been contained and all farmers and the general public should go about their nation- building activities as normal,” he said.

The locusts, which sleep during the day and move at night, came from Somalia, and Oguna said the government had been monitoring them since November 2019. The swarms crossed into Kenya through El Wak from the Southern side of Somalia on December 28.

“Desert locusts are not a common in Kenya. The last time we had them cross from neighbouring countries was in 2007,” said David Mwangi, Head of the Plant Protection and Service Division at the Ministry of Agriculture.

“The ground team will also help in locating where the locusts sleep so we are able to spray them at that particular point,” Mwangi said.

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