Alarm as locusts invade farms in Taita Taveta County

Swarm of desert locusts

A swarm of desert locusts on a macadamia tree at Kangurwe village in Nyeri county on February 19, 2020. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Swarm of locusts threatening food security in the county.
  • Neighbouring areas are also under serious threat of invasion.

The government has dispatched an aircraft to Taita Taveta County as part of an effort by the Ministry of Agriculture to contain locust infestation in the area.

Swarms of locusts have entered the county through Makueni and invaded parts of Voi, Mwatate and Wundanyi sub-counties, causing massive destruction to crops.

On Friday, the Ministry of Agriculture conducted an aerial survey before spraying could be done.

County executive for Agriculture Davis Mwangoma expressed optimism that the government would contain the pests that have threatened food security in the area.

He said the Ministry of Agriculture, together with the county department of agriculture, were mobilising teams to contain the situation.

"There is not much we can do as a county government except wait for intervention from the national government. The ministry has already sent a chopper to do surveillance,'' he said.

Neighbouring areas are also under serious threat of invasion. The swarms have destroyed hundreds of acres of maize and peas crops.

Mr Mwangoma, however, said the locusts are yet to cause massive destruction as they are not breeding quickly.

"The damage is not extensive. We hope to contain the situation soon," he said.

Wiped out crops

Residents in Paranga, Ghazi, Mbulia, Mbololo and Kamtonga areas are worried that the locusts will wipe out their crops at a time of food insecurity.

They said the locusts are feeding on any green material, especially maize and peas crops.

"We were looking forward to a bumper harvest this season but the locusts have wiped out our crops. All vegetation is gone and we don't have pasture for our livestock," said Mwakajo resident Sylvia Mwakuja.

A Ghazi resident, Stephen Isanju, asked the government to send officers to assess the situation.
He said the locusts have caused massive damage to their crops.

"We will have nothing to eat because all our crops have been destroyed. Even our livestock will have no pasture. We are worried about this situation," he said.

Ngolia MCA Jones Mghanga, while calling for intervention from the national and county governments, said the extent of destruction is alarming.

"They have wiped out all the vegetation in this area. I am counting losses because, as we speak, they are on my farm," he said.

He said the locust invasion will cause hunger in the area because farmers will have nothing to harvest this season.

The county government said spraying of the insects will start immediately the survey is completed.