Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has indicated that the government has so far spent Sh230 million in eradicating locusts.
Appearing before parliament to give an account of how the swarms of locusts that have invaded different parts of the country can be eradicated, Munya noted that the biggest challenge is the shortage of chemicals as well as the mobile nature of the locusts.
For instance, he stated that the only effective chemicals for this menace are manufactured in Japan and Australia hence transporting to the country has been slow as the state depends on private entities.
“Locusts are very mobile. They move about 150km per day. It is a challenge distributing the chemicals. We have been relying on the private sector who are lying to us that the chemicals will be here in two weeks but it takes ages,” said Munya.
He, however, noted that efforts to tame the insects had been intensified by the government with the number of aircraft used in the project increased from 8 to 20.
Additionally, 500 National Youth Service (NYS) personnel have also been recruited and trained to aid in curbing the menace.
So far, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is said to have procured 100,000 litres of the chemicals needed and ideally donated 20 vehicles fixed with sprayers for the task.
“They will be shared with neighbouring countries of Uganda and South Sudan. Consultants have also been hired to access the extent of damage in affected counties,” he said.
A locust control centre is also said to have been set up at Kilimo House and six other regional centres established to run and manage the exercise.
Munya swung into action as Agriculture CS after President Uhuru Kenyatta fired Mwangi Kiunjuri in a cabinet reshuffle.
Initially, Munya’s predecessor had asked netizens to capture photos of the locusts and send them in order to ascertain if they indeed they were destructive.
A day after the appointment, Munya rubbished Kiunjuri’s directives stating that competent people had already been deployed.
“Please stop sending us photos of locusts anymore, we already have competent people on the ground who are using scientific methods to identify them,” he said.
However, a month later, the locusts have invaded different parts of the country with no sustainable method to eradicate them.