Farmers get compensation for locust invasion losses


A man chases locusts from a farm in Kijaci area, Tharaka constituency, in February 2020. Farmers in the county have received Sh2.2 million as compensation for the losses they suffered due to the invasion.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Desert locusts invaded parts of the country in 2019 and 2020.
  • World Bank funded programme seeks to restore farmers’ livelihoods.

The national government has embarked on a plan to compensate farmers who were affected by the locust invasion over two years ago.

Through the World Bank-funded Emergency Locust Response Programme, beneficiaries in 15 counties that were hard-hit by the pests in 2019 will receive compensation.

In Turkana County, farmers in 10 wards will receive Sh36 million after locusts lay to waste more than 15,000 hectares of crop and pasture.

According to county authorities, the desert locusts invasion reversed gains that had been achieved through investment in crop production in various irrigation schemes.

Agriculture and Pastoral Economy Executive George Emoru said they had already mapped out the 10 worst affected wards to benefit from the first phase of the programme.

He said the money will be channelled through Community Driven Development Committees. 

The beneficiaries are drawn from Kapedo/Napeitom, Lokori/Kochodin, Lobei/Kotaruk, Lokiriama/Lorengkipi, Letea, Kalapata and Kaeris , Kerio, Kaputir and Kanamkemer wards.

Food security

“The grant is aimed at supporting both farmers and herders to restore their productive livelihoods for sustained food security by venturing in both livestock and crop production,” Mr Emoru said.

He added that county officials from both agriculture and livestock sectors will monitor the committees to ensure the funds are prudently spent.

“Prudent use of the grants in conformity with procurement regulations resulting in positive transformation for targeted households will see more wards reached,” Mr Emoru said.

Pastoral Economy Chief Officer Abdullahi Yusuf challenged the beneficiaries to invest in income generating activities that besides improving access to food at household level, will help them earn from sales of surplus.

Mr Yusuf said the victims of the locust invasion have also been benefiting from livelihoods recovery efforts in a joint partnership between the county government and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.

More than 1, 800 farmers received certified seeds and were supported to establish kitchen gardens to boost production of highly nutritious vegetables.

In Tharaka-Nithi County, Tharaka North sub-county farmers whose crops were destroyed by desert locusts have received Sh2.2 million.

Fighting locusts

Governor Muthomi Njuki yesterday disbursed the money to 20 groups of farmers in Gatue, Maragwa, Kanjoro and Kathangacini locations.

The governor asked the beneficiaries to use the money in buying foodstuff and seeds for planting this season. He said the government also gave the farmers sprayers and pesticides for fighting the locusts in case of a future invasion and for other farm use.

The county boss also gave all the farmers in the region free certified maize and green grams seeds in a bid to boost food harvest in the semi-arid areas that experience perennial food shortages.

Mr Njuki said the free seed programme has greatly boosted crop production in the county, curbing the perennial hunger.

He noted that since 2018, the residents have never been given relief food apart from those from areas that experienced locust invasion and those that receive very little rainfall.

“We have witnessed bumper harvest in the last seasons because of this programme that ensures that farmers plant the right seeds for particular areas,” said Mr Njuki.

The locust invasion in the county affected more than 30,000 acres in 18 sub-locations.