Farmers at Vohovole village, North Maragoli Location in Sabatia Sub-county are in panic after sighting locusts in their area.
Speaking to the Kenya News Agency (KNA), Thursday morning, at Ms. Mary Mideva’s homestead where most of the insects have pitched camp, the worried residents want the government to dispatch agriculture extension officers to establish whether they are the dreaded desert locusts.
According to the local residents, the locusts, which are multiplying in numbers, were spotted in the area about two weeks ago.
“These destructive locusts have been around for the last two weeks,” reported Mrs. Jane Ishuga, adding the insects were feeding mostly on leaves of flowers and farm crop.
A spot check by KNA revealed the adult locusts were green in color, while the young ones were dark, a fact that has made the villagers more worried.
“If these could be the type of locusts we are used to, we could be feeding on them right now. But not on this type,” a local claimed.
The farmers are afraid to let their cattle out for grazing, and their crops of millet, sorghum and maize are vulnerable, but there is little they can do.
“We appeal to both the National and County governments to move with speed and contain the insects before they increase in numbers and invade our farms,” urged Ms. Mideva.
The villagers thanked Mudete Sub-location Assistant Chief, Mrs. Millicent Kageha for visiting the affected area where she promised to report to the concerned authorities.
When reached for comments, Vihiga County Executive Committee Member (CECM) In-Charge of Agriculture, Mr. Geoffrey Vukaya, assured members of public that the County government was on high alert.
“A team of Agricultural officers is set to visit Mudete Sub-location and other parts of the County in order to establish the nature of the spotted locusts before advising the government accordingly,” Vukaya told KNA on phone.
He urged County residents to report to relevant authorities upon sighting such kind of insects.
According to United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, the recent weather in East Africa has created conditions that favour rapid locust reproduction.
The report warns that left unchecked, the numbers of crop-devouring insects could grow 500 times by June.
“Such swarms, potentially containing hundreds of millions of individual Desert Locusts, can move 150 kilometres a day, devastating rural livelihoods in their relentless drive to eat and reproduce,” says FAO.
Experts have established that a Desert Locust devours its own weight in food per day, which is about two grams.
By Maurice Aluda