Residents of Mwingi North in Kitui County are a worried lot after swarms of locusts invaded their farms.
The affected areas are Tseikuru, Kyuso, Mivukoni and Katse in the vast constituency where farmers’ efforts to harvest maize and green grams have been disrupted.
According to County Chief Officer for Water Kioko Kiilu, the locusts were first sighted on Tuesday morning moving from the northern side of Tharaka-Nithi and Meru counties.
Mr Kiilu said the response team from the Ministry of Agriculture that is coordinating aerial spraying has been notified and is expected to swing into action any moment.
“A team of county agriculture officials led by Deputy Governor Wathe Nzau is already on the ground monitoring the situation to help in mapping the affected areas,” said Mr Kiilu.
He urged all ward and village administrators as well as agricultural extension officers in the region to be on the alert and promptly communicate any fresh sightings to the relevant county and national government authorities.
The locusts first invaded the Mwingi Game Reserve that separates Kitui and Meru counties before spreading to other inhabited areas.
The invasion in Kitui brings to nine the number of counties so far affected by the locust menace.
The other counties are Laikipia, Meru, Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Isiolo, Garissa and Samburu.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the desert locusts in Kenya originated from the Red Sea coast.
The national government had announced a campaign to combat the spread of locusts through aerial spraying with additional aircraft assigned to areas which have been hit hardest by the invasion.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya announced that a Sh230 million budget has been set aside for the campaign.