The widespread breeding of desert locust continues in eastern Ethiopia and central Somalia, where new swarms are expected to start forming in early December and move south to Kenya by mid-December.
According to the United Nations Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO), an effective and efficient strategy is in place to supplement the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in readiness to minimise the impact of the locust during the current planting season.
In Kenya currently, a few early and mid-instar hopper bands are forming in Samburu county. In the northeast, more swarms have been reported near the Somalia border in Mandera and Wajir counties of which may be laying eggs. These swarms probably came from central Somalia on northerly winds that are now reaching Kenya.
Speaking when he welcomed the newly appointed Representative to Kenya of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Ms. Carla Elisa Luis Mucavi at his office , Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives (MoALF&C) Peter Munya said Technical teams from both the Ministry and FAO begin a two-week mission to coordinate preparedness and control efforts in affected counties, in partnership with the Council of Governors.
Munya noted that KDF have been engaged by the Ministry and also trained by FAO to support spraying in the affected regions of the country with FAO promising to provide a helicopter to supplement the KDF fleet in readiness for the second wave.
Acknowledging the support FAO has provided to the country so far, Munya called on the agency to increase its financial and technical contribution to complement the Government’s efforts.
Ms. Mucavi, who was previously at the helm of the FAO Liaison Office at the UN Headquarters in New York, had paid the CS a courtesy call as she assumed her duties at the end of a two-week quarantine.
The FAO Representative commended the ministry for a well-structured and well-coordinated approach in responding to the food security threat posed by the locust invasion.
“I am confident that Kenya is better prepared to manage the second invasion, given the systems in place and capacity already built nation-wide”, Mucavi said.
A food Security War Room and Locus Control Coordination Unit set up earlier in the year continue to provide early warning and inform the government on mitigation measures to keep the impact of the locusts on food security and livelihoods to the minimum.
In addition to locust response, she said that FAO will continue to support the country in line with the National Agriculture Sector Growth and Transformation Strategy (2019-2029), FAO’s Hand in Hand Initiative and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for Kenya.
Ms. Mucavi who will be the first woman to hold the position of FAO Representative in Kenya, is a national of Mozambique and succeeds Dr. Gabriel Rugalema who is now the head of Eastern and Southern Africa at the World Vegetable Centre.
She takes office at a time when the agriculture sector is in the spotlight, as the country’s highest foreign exchange earner, with global travel restrictions adversely affecting the tourism sector.
The Kenyan Government, in its 2020-2021 budget allocated Ksh 1.3 billion (USD 12 million) to enhance the resilience of pastoral communities as they battle the locust invasion.
This allocation is meant to support and sustain the farming communities as they employ thousands of workers in the agricultural sector.
Present at the meeting were the Principal Secretaries Harry Kimtai (Livestock), Ali Noor Ismail (Cooperatives), Prof. Hamadi Boga (Crops and Research), Prof. Micheni Ntiba (Fisheries and Blue Economy), and Agriculture Transformation Coordinator Ms. Thule Lenneiye.
By Wangari Ndirangu