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Murang’a residents appeal for help as locusts invade farms

Thursday January 30 2020

Desert locusts in Murang'a

Desert locusts in a farm in Murang'a County on January 30, 2020. The insects invaded the region from neighbouring Machakos County. PHOTO | NDUNG'U GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NDUNG'U GACHANE
By NDUNG'U GACHANE
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Desert locusts have now reached parts of Murang'a County.

On Thursday, the insects invaded Kamuiru, Mirira, Gikuu, Gitungano and Muthigiriri villages in Kiharu Constituency.

The locusts started feeding on Napier grass, tree leaves and other green vegetation, causing panic and fear among locals who mainly depend on agriculture and livestock keeping.

The first warm of desert locusts landed on maize farms in Kambirwa on Wednesday evening from the neighbouring Machakos County.

FODDER FOR LIVESTOCK

Mr Peter Irungu, a farmer who has two dairy cows and a herd of goats, said the locusts devoured Napier grass on his three-acre farm, the only source of fodder for his livestock.

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“I woke up in the morning to find my mango trees and Napier grass looking red only to realise that it was because of the marauding insects. My neighbours too realised that there were unwanted guests in their farms and we started chasing them away using stones and sticks,” a helpless Mr Irungu told the Nation Thursday morning.

He said the locusts have completely disrupted the cycle of his income generating project and that he does not know where he will get fodder for his livestock.

“Occasionally, a sack of fodder for livestock like the Napier grass and the green matter goes for up to Sh200 and that is why we find it wise to plant our won. After the invasion, I’m not sure of what to do next for my livestock,” he said.

LOCUST EGGS

Farmers now fear that the locusts may have left eggs on their farms which will hatch new insects which could cause more destruction to their crops.

Theresia Nyambura said that children are scared of the locusts and spend most of their time indoors.

“These insects are strange. They are even making our children scared of going to school or do other farm chores,” added Ms Nyambura who urged government to move in swiftly and help control the situation before more swarms move into their farms

Murang’a County Agriculture Executive Albert Mwaniki observed that two swarms were spotted flying to Murang’a from Machakos town on Wednesday.

“The locusts are in brown stage and we want to spray them before reaching yellow stage. We have assembled motorised spraying equipment and training personnel to deal with the locusts,” said Mr Mwaniki.

BE ON LOOKOUT

The CEC noted that they are yet to know where the other swarms settled and urged locals to be on the lookout and report to the authorities in case they spot them in their farms.

He said the county government has enough chemicals to control the spread of the locusts within the county.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro requested the Ministry of Agriculture to deploy helicopters to help spraying the insects before they move to other areas.

“Let the Ministry of Agriculture led by Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya hasten in employing measures to control locusts,” he said, adding that failure to control the insects could lead to the destruction of all the crops in the farms.

Desert locusts, the legislator said, could spread to all counties and thus relevant government agencies should hasten in controlling the insects.

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