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Economy

Locusts invade Muhoroni as EA lobby warns of crisis

Locusts
Locusts in Kanukurmeri village, Turkana County on January 20. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Muhoroni sugar belt in Kisumu County is the latest farming zone to report desert locust invasion, raising anxiety just days after Agriculture Secretary Peter Munya downplayed threat posed by the voracious insects.

According to residents of Ngere Kamarawa in Muhoroni sub-county, the migratory insects that were first spotted in northern Kenya before spreading to Meru, Samburu, Kitui, Machakos and Kajiado counties, have been seen in the sugar plantations in the past two weeks.

"We have been told they flew from Nyando before coming to our farms,” said Mr David Otieno, a cane farmer.

Muhoroni Deputy County Commissioner Erick Wanyonyi, however, appealed for calm, asking both the national and county governments to investigate and assess the magnitude of the invasion.

"You know that Muhoroni is the food basket of Kisumu County. We should not wait for farmers to start counting losses,” said Mr Wanyonyi.

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On Tuesday, Kenyans took to the social media to criticise Mr Munya over his remarks two days ago that swarms of locusts remaining in the country “are old and about to die off.”

“Save for Samburu, there are no more new swarms coming into the country through Garissa, Wajir and Mandera. The yellowish locusts you see around are at the end of their life cycle, just looking for a place to lay their eggs before they die. We have 20 aircraft and have ordered adequate chemicals from Japan to deal with the second generation,” Mr Munya said.

On Monday, East African Farmers Federation (EAFF) said the invasion of locust has reached a crisis stage that would hit the region’s food security this year if not brought under control on time.

Chief executive officer Stephen Muchiri said the fact that locusts have crossed from Kenya to neighbouring countries of Tanzania and Uganda, will further complicate food situation in East African Community region. Mr Muchiri said to manage the crisis, the regional governments need to come together and combine their efforts in curbing the potential threat that the insects pose.

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