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Entomologists urge government to target locust breeding grounds

The  Government should work with Counties infested by desert locust to identify potential breeding habitats and target them for management, this is according to the Entomology Society of Kenya.

The  Chairman of the Society, Dr. John Nderitu  stated that the government should scout and monitor the locusts to stop them from spreading. He also added that the local population should utilize the information about the insects for preventive measure.

“The use of chemicals on the ground and in the air is effective and poses no harm. Other indigenous methods can, however, be applied,” said Nderitu.

“If the initial population that entered the country is already gone, we should not allow the eggs that are in the country to hatch and affect the vegetation,” said a member of the committee, Professor George Ong`amo.

Addressing  a press briefing held at the National Museum of Kenya on Thursday, Entomology experts urged the government to hasten measures to curb the invasion of desert locusts which have now spread from Wajir to other counties including Meru.

The experts said that the desert locusts are said to have migrated from Ethiopia and Somalia and are now in the country since the 28th December 2019, adding that the residents have tried to control to no avail.

Ong`amo said that the locusts are likely to propagate due to the favorable conditions, therefore, they should target their breeding areas and kill the population that might emerge.

The  Director of Research, Mary Gikundu  suggested that the male locusts should be attracted using chemical hormones ‘pheromones’ to prevent breeding.

She also added that the country should have regional bio- surveillance between the semi desert countries to provide regional communication, therefore preventing other potential invasions.

Elsewhere, the  livestock  keepers and farmers from Isiolo County are worried following spotting of swarms of desert locusts in some parts of the area on Wednesday.

The  pastoralists from Garbatulla and Merti Sub-counties in Isiolo have expressed fear that the dreaded pests may spread and cause destruction of crops and vegetation if not contained immediately.

The  Wabera Member of the County Assembly, Abdi Duba has, therefore, appealed to the National Government to come to the aid of Isiolo residents in dealing with the locusts, stating that the County Government does not have the capacity to get rid of the destructive pests.

Duba warned of massive loss if the locusts continue destroying vegetation in Kinna Ward where residents are both crops and livestock keepers.

He said there was great need to control the locusts that are destroying all the vegetation in the area leaving behind bare ground and the area people and their animals having no alternative source of food.

The  MCA further stated that pests’ menace would adversely affect wildlife in the nearby four National Game reserves of Bisan-adi, Shaba, Buffalo Springs in Isiolo and Meru National Park because the wild animals depend on vegetation for food.

He added that the wildlife destruction was likely to make the animals flee the tourist attraction sites hence affect the tourism industry in the region which is a source of revenue for the government.

The  Isiolo County Commissioner (CC), Harman  Shambi  said the locusts spread covered an area of 3,050 square kilometers of land in Garbatulla and Merti areas by Thursday morning, clearing all types of vegetation.

Shambi  said that aerial spraying with chemicals is the best method to deal with the locusts and the National Government is already taking correct measures beginning Thursday (today) or Friday  morning.

“We have not used other methods like teargas or trying to catch the locusts as I have heard other counties are doing, but I am optimistic that the National Government will deal with the problem before the locusts cause a lot of damage,” said Shambi.

The  County Executive for Livestock and Agriculture, Dr. Lawrence Mwongela, said the National Government was responsible for the fight against the desert locusts as the County Government lacked the capacity to combat the pests.

He  said that the County and National Government officials in the area were in touch with the Plants Protection Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture and a Plan of action was in place to have the menace eradicated from Thursday.

He  added that a County Steering Group (CSG) meeting was scheduled for Friday where all agricultural and livestock stakeholders in the County including the political leaders would meet to address the disaster.

Dr. Mwongela said some leaders were out to call for declaration of the menace a national disaster considering the fast rate of spread and destruction of crops that may endanger the country’s food security.

By  KNA  Team.

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