Peter Munya on Wednesday hit the ground running at his new posting as Agriculture CS, announcing that the government had released Sh230 million to fight the invasive desert locusts.
The destructive migratory insects which crossed into Kenya on December 28 have so far invaded eight counties where they continue to devour livestock pasture and vegetation.
Speaking during his first press briefing as the Agriculture CS, Mr Munya urged local farmers not to worry about the desert locust invasion but instead proceed with their normal farming activities.
Mr Munya took over as Agriculture CS on Wedsday, a day after incumbent Mwangi Kiunjuri was fired by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Mr Munya said the government increased its capacity in manpower, surveillance, fumigation in the affected counties to ensure that there are no further locust emergencies.
Eight more aircrafts will also be deployed on Thursday to carry out surveillance and aerial fumigation across the affected counties, the minister stated.
The military PP1 aircraft will be deployed in the heavily affected counties of Garissa, Mandera and Marsabit to contain the movements of the locusts, the CS said.
“We are deploying and hiring three more aircrafts which will be used in aerial spraying, while we have received four more aircrafts from Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Pipeline and Kenya Forestry Service which will be used in surveillance,” Mr Munya said, adding that the private sector has also joined in the fight of the locusts in the border areas of Laikipia and Isiolo.
Zambia has also released an additional aircraft as part of the concerted regional efforts to fight the migratory locusts which can cover a distance of more than 200 km in one day.
The ministry of agriculture says it has contained seven swarms of locusts that had initially invaded Mandera, Garissa and Wajir while five other swarms were still under surveillance.
The ministry, however, said it could not quantify the extent of the locust damage so far but promised to report the damage once an assessment is done.
“Currently we are focusing on dealing with the emergency. We will do the assessment later after the control and see how to support the affected communities,” the Agriculture CS.
He said about 20,000 litres of chemicals have been procured to fumigate the pests.
“4,700 litres have been availed in four counties and we are empowering teams at the affected counties to enhance surveillance of the swarms,” he added.
Dr Stephen Njoka, Director Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa (DLCO – EA) said the while Kenyan government was effectively dealing with the locust,fully eradicating them was difficult since more swarms could be coming from Somalia.
“Our biggest threat is coming in from Somalia. While Ethiopia is controlling, Somali is not controlling,” he said, adding that the insecurity in the neighboring Somalia was a major blow to the fight of the locusts.
Dr Njoka explained that while the locust are edible, he warned people against eating locusts that had been sprayed.
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