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Kenya: Desert locusts to invade 20 counties- PS

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Desert Locust. Image: FAO

According to the Agriculture PS, Hamadi Boga young and ferocious desert locust swarms are expected to swamp the Coast region by the end of the week. The mature swarms are currently in Lamu, Kilifi, upper parts of Kwale and Tana River counties.

Swarms of desert locusts are likely to spread to more than 20 counties by mid-December, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization says.

Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga said young and ferocious desert locust swarms are expected to swamp the Coast region by the end of the week.

“Surveillance will go far and wide to control the hatchlings. We have a lot of work on our hands. It will be a busy Christmas for us but we are prepared to fight the upsurge,” the PS said.

Mature swarms are currently in Lamu, Kilifi, upper parts of Kwale and Tana River counties, Boga told the Star by phone Sunday.

“We expect the volume of the swarms to be bigger in this second invasion as older and mature swarms are already in the country. By the end of this week, younger swarms which are more ferocious in terms of feeding and mobility will start coming,” he said.

The PS said that the government will be training teams in Kwale, Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Makueini and Kajiado to monitor the movement of the swarms. The control process will begin in the next five weeks.

The winds from Somalia and Ethiopia are favouring migration of swarms in Kenya’s direction. The waves came early by November 9, when the swarms crossed over from Central and North Somalia and Eastern Ethiopia.

This is unlike last year, when the first sighting was reported on December 28, Boga said.

Dr Kasina Muo, the chair of the Entomological Society of Kenya, said immature swarms will start to form this week and increase during the remainder of December and into January.

Those in Somalia and Ethiopia are laying eggs. They may start hatching any time and will start invading Kenya in the next two to three weeks, Muo said.

“Swarms landed in Kenya during the same period last year so we should expect another busy month to control the locusts,” the expert said.

The first desert locust sighting was reported on December 28 last year in Mandera, swarms spread to more than 15 counties by January.

The UN locust watch update indicated that a few small mature swarms from the previous generation in Somalia continue to arrive in Northeast and East Kenya, including coastal areas near Lamu.

“Egg-laying has already taken place near the Tana River and is likely to occur elsewhere. Hopper bands are present in the northwest from local breeding,” the locust watch report showed.

FAO said intensive survey and control operations should be maintained in Ethiopia and Somalia while extreme vigilance and preparedness are required in Kenya.

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