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Aerial spraying of desert locusts in Isiolo County begins

Sunday January 12 2020
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Pesticides for sparing desert locusts being offloaded from an aircraft in Isiolo on January 11, 2020. Aerial of the locusts in Isiolo County begins on January 12, 2020. PHOTO | DAVID MUCHUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By WAWERU WAIRIMU

Aerial spraying of desert locusts that continue to cause destruction after covering 3,150 square kilometres of land in Isiolo County starts Sunday morning.

The spraying, initially scheduled to start on Saturday morning, failed to kick off as 940 litres of pesticides delivered two days before were for hand pumps and not for aerial use.

Two aircraft, one released by the government and another from Farmland Aviation, had by Friday evening arrived at the Isiolo International Airport ready for the spraying.

PESTICIDES RE-ORDERED

County Chief Officer for Agriculture Salad Jillo on Saturday evening confirmed that the re-ordered pesticides had been delivered and the exercise would start from 6.45am Sunday.

He had previously told the Nation that the spraying would kick off from 6pm Friday once the pesticides were delivered but their late delivery halted the awaited evening exercise.

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Two aircraft provided by Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), he said, had already conducted surveillance and mapping of the areas that will be sprayed.

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Residents of Toiboto in Garbatulla, Isiolo County scaring away locusts on January 11, 2020. PHOTO | WAWERU WAIRIMU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

TARGETED AREAS

“We have already fuelled the government aircraft and we will start the operation at 645am tomorrow (Sunday). We are targeting Kipsing, Malkagalla and Shaba area. NRT did surveillance and has provided the coordinates,” said Mr Jillo in an update report, adding that aerial surveillance will also be done in Bassa.

Residents were on Saturday spotted trying to scare the pests that migrated to parts of Garbatulla and Merti sub-counties on Wednesday evening after causing destruction in Wajir, Garissa and Marsabit counties.

The locusts, which got into Isiolo through Escort, had by Saturday covered 3,150 square kilometres of in Garbatulla and Merti respectively.

The most affected areas include Duse, Gotu, Barambate, Toiboto, Kulamawe, Kipsing and Kinna North.

COORDINATION TEAM

The county government has already formed a 10-member-team to coordinate efforts to contain the locust invasion. It will monitor the situation, mobilise funds and educate locals on the precautionary measures to take during the spraying.

The locusts have already spread to Kachiuru in neighbouring Meru County, posing a great threat to miraa and tea which are major sources of livelihoods.

A swam of the destructive pests was on Friday spotted in Losesia in Samburu and along River Ewaso Nyiro that separates Isiolo, Samburu and Laikipia counties.

In a January 11 press release, Laikipia Agriculture and Livestock Executive Lucy Murugi said the county government had collaborated with Isiolo and Samburu counties to monitor and control the insects reported to have invaded Kipsing which borders Isiolo.

INCREASED SURVEILLANCE

Dr Murugi said aerial spraying by Farmland Aviation, contracted by the three counties, was to start on Saturday afternoon in Kipsing which is closest to Laikipia.

“We have increased our surveillance across the county and on the borders. Our officers are on high alert,” she said.

And though Mr Jillo, who chairs the locust coordination team, claimed that Kipsing was sprayed on Saturday evening, Isiolo Assistant County Commissioner Barnabas Kimotok said when an aircraft did surveillance in the morning and by late afternoon, the pests had moved from Noloroi into neighbouring Laikipia County.

“Surveillance was done in the morning and the swam of locusts in Noloroi area had already moved to Laikipia County when the aircraft returned later in the day,” Mr Kimotok told the Nation by phone.

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