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Help to manage cactus which is a great threat to animals in Laikipia County

Laikipia  County  government  officials and a team from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate  Services (KEPHIS) met  on Friday to discuss the invasion of pasture lands by the cactus plant.

The  Laikipia Governor, Ndiritu Muriithi and a team from KEPHIS led by its Chairman, Robin  Achoki, agreed  that the cactus also known as the  opuntia plant is becoming a big threat to range land in the area as it has overtaken pastures  and  browses in Laikipia North Sub County  where  the  main livelihood is livestock.

At  Naibunga  Conservancy in Laikipia North, the cactus has already taken over 17,000 acres of land with its fast spread being attributed to  the  arid  conditions in the vast area.

Opuntia  also  commonly known as prickly pear, is a species of cactus that has long been a domesticated crop plant grown in agricultural economies  throughout arid and semi-arid parts of the world.

The cactus has displaced pastoral communities and is causing injuries and deaths to both domestic and wild animals in the area.

Governor  Ndiritu  Muriithi, said the invasion of opuntia in Laikipia north sub County is a night mare for the local residents.

Apart  from invading the limited grazing land in the Laikipia North where livestock eat the cactus fruit, the small spines called glochids, lodges in the mouths, throat, stomach and intestine and end up causing infection and deaths.

“We  had a meeting with KEPHIS top officials to source for a way on how to manage the invasion of this dangerous plant to animals in our county,” the governor noted.

Achok  said his organization is mandated to ensure plant health policies are adhered to.

“KEPHIS  is going to work with Laikipia County Government to address various challenges the area facing,” he noted.

He noted  KEPHIS is going to work with Laikipia County government to ensure farmer’s plant certified seeds for quality and quantity food production.

By  Margaret  Kirera

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