Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has reaffirmed the national government’s commitment towards the locust eradication programme currently underway in large parts of the Coast and North Eastern region.
He stated that the national government had already started a locust eradication initiative in Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Garissa and Mandera adding that at least 200,000 litres of the pesticide Fenitrothione has already been supplied to the affected counties.
Lamu’s consignment of the pesticide was delivered Wednesday evening by the Kenya Army which had been charged with delivering the pesticide amidst panic among farmers that the locust invasion would affect their crops.
Speaking in Witu of Lamu Thursday during the commissioning of a locust control exercise in the county, the CS further revealed that 50 NYS youths, specially trained on locust control by Food and Agriculture Organisation in liaison with the Ministry of Agriculture will spearhead the exercise in Lamu.
“Besides the NYS youths, headmen and wazee wa nyumba kumi will also be trained on how to address the locust menace within their various localities,” Munya stated.
He further lauded the national and county government officials in the county for their quick response in coordinating intervention efforts to rein in on the locust threat.
The CS reiterated that the national government is up to the task of combating the locust menace that is currently affecting large swathes of the country, with Lamu County sighting the locusts two weeks ago.
Munya advised the public against eating the locust, despite them being a delicacy in certain parts of the country, adding that some of the locust that have migrated into the county, may have already been sprayed and could prove fatal if eaten.
He added that the locust were looking for suitable soils to hatch their eggs and according to agriculture officials led by Lamu Agriculture Chief Officer Dr Charles Gichohi, the county’s sandy soils are the perfect breeding grounds for the locusts.
“Unless we arrest the locust menace in the county early through such intervention initiatives where mass spraying of pesticides will take place in and around the county’s farms, it could prove problematic and lead to loss of crop and worse feminine,” Dr Gichohi said.
Sentiments echoed by Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia who expressed optimism that the locust menace will be addressed before if causes serious damage to farm crops.
Subsistence farmers around Lamu, have expressed concern that they could be the most affected if the locust menace is not addressed sufficiently and on time.
Abdi Shukri, a pastoralist who spoke during the launch of the locust intervention programme said that the interventions against locusts were timely since pastures are also affected by the pests.
By Amenya Ochieng