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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Prepare for locusts invasion during long rains, UN warns

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Immature locust swarms have been reported in Nyandarua, Nakuru and Baringo counties as the dry spell continues to bite many parts of the country, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Locust Watch latest report reveals.

The report notes that the swarms are few and smaller in size because of the ongoing control operations and no breeding.

Onset of rain, however, would herald a period of increased breeding in many parts of the country as the swarms mature.

Accordingly, weather predictions indicate little showers by the end of this month although more rainfall is expected in April. With the tremendous damage caused by locust in the 2019/20 financial year, FAO has called on regional governments of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia to sustain the current survey and control operations and maintain vigilance in case there is any unusual rainfall.

Another recent survey conducted by the University of Nairobi shows that swarms have also been spotted in Wajir, Mandera and Samburu counties. Other counties have experienced crop losses and they include Laikipia, Embu, Meru, Machakos and Kitui.

“Generally, the situation is under control save for the few swarmlets in sensitive areas. Control operation is at the tail end and the team project to achieve a record of more than 95 per cent kill in under three months of operation”, said George Ongamo, an entomologist at the University of Nairobi.

Ongamo, however, warns that onset of rains may complicate the management plan as this may enhance maturation of the swarms.

FAO has been coordinating efforts to control the locusts that have in the 2019/20 period attacked large swathes of land from northern India, Middle East, Horn of Africa and even West Africa.

With international support coordinated by FAO, more than1.1 million hectares of land in Kenya and other 9 countries have been surveyed and treated for locust infestation since the beginning of the year. Overall, the possible loss of 2.3 million tonnes of cereal-enough to feed more than 15 million people annually was prevented.

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