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Locust invasion now under control – Principal Secretary

The government has brought the locust invasion in the country under control, the Principal Secretary (PS) Ministry of Devolution, Micah  Powon has said.

Powon assured Kenyans that the menace had not achieved the threshold where it could be declared a national disaster and that the problem will end soon.

The  PS  observed that most of the areas that had been hit were in Arid and Semi-Arid areas (ASALs) which is within his docket.

“The  Ministry of  Agriculture is working with the State Department for ASALS to contain the problem. The Treasury has released Sh.30 million to help fight the locust menace which is now experienced in eight counties,” he noted.

He  said the State  was focusing more manpower and resources in addressing the invasion in key areas of Marsabit, Isiolo and Mandera, adding more aircrafts had been deployed to spray the swarms.

Speaking  on  Wednesday in Nakuru, Powon  said though locusts were a food security threat in the country, Kenyans need not worry  following intervention measures instituted by the State.

“The Ministry of Agriculture as the lead agency in controlling the invasion in collaboration with other stakeholders has taken very effective measures to remedy the situation. For a very long time Kenya has not had a locust invasion but we have always been monitoring swarms in neigbouring countries,” he said.

Kenya experienced locust invasion in 2007 but the situation was contained.

The  locusts started crossing the border of Ethiopia and Somalia into Kenya late last month. They have so far invaded eight counties; Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Meru, Samburu and Laikipia.

There are no figures yet on the amount of destruction the locusts have occasioned in Kenya so far, but they have destroyed 175,000 acres of farmland in Somalia and Ethiopia according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The locust invasion is considered a disaster as they can cause widespread famine in a short time. Part of an average swarm can eat the same amount of food in one day as about 10 elephants, 25 camels, or 2,500 people, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Powon at the same time, said the Ministry of Devolution was promoting initiation of irrigation projects in ASAL areas as a way of enhancing food productivity and security.

“Due to climate change, rain fed agriculture is becoming unreliable,” he said.

The PS further appealed to counties infested with locusts to assist the national government from their respective natural disaster kitties, which accounted for two percent of devolved units’ budgets.

By  Anne Mwale/Desire Waithaka

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