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State moves to eradicate Quelea birds in Kisumu

The government has launched an aerial operation to flush out quelea birds, which have invaded rice fields in Kisumu County.

Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture arrived in Kisumu Friday to roll out the exercise, which targets to flush out 5.8 million birds, which have destroyed acres of rice fields at Ahero and West Kano irrigation schemes.

The operation is set to be carried out at nine locations within the two schemes, where the birds hide at night.

Kisumu County Executive Committee Member in charge of Agriculture Ken Onyango announced the outbreak of the birds in the area, adding that the county government sought help from the national government to tame the birds, which pose a threat to food security in the area.

A survey by the county department for agriculture revealed that some 300 acres of rice fields have been destroyed by the birds with an additional 2, 000 acres under threat.

Onyango said the invasion which was last reported in March 2022 has left farmers counting losses amounting to millions of shillings.

Most of the birds, he said, have migrated to Okana Irrigation Scheme from Kisumu East Sub-County.

The CECM attributed the invasion to partial control by the crop protection unit, noting that the last crop protection exercise was carried out in March 2022.

He added that the growing of sorghum within the rice fields has also attracted the birds.

“We have identified the roots where the birds retreat to at night and these are the areas the team from Kilimo House will proceed with chemicals and equipment,” he said.

The operation, he said, will cover the National Irrigation Authority area in Muhoroni, Awach Kano, Ogange, Amboo, Okana, Ogongo, Kudho, Haro and Alara areas.

The government intervention is set to bring a big relief to farmers, who have struggled in vain throughout the season to scare away the birds.

By Gabriel Odhiambo and Centrine Ogonyo

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