Locusts still invading farms in Kirinyaga as coffee farmers sound alarm

Desert locusts have become the bane of residents in Gichugu, Kirinyaga County for the second week.

Swarms were spotted in Ngariama and Kathunguri feeding on nappier grass, coffee and macadamia nut leaves.

‘They are flying just above our head and perching on nearby trees and our county government of Kirinyaga is doing little to help us,” one resident said.

Meanwhile, farmers from Kibugu and Rutune villages in Embu North have expressed concern that they may not produced coffee this year after the desert locusts invaded their shambas.

The farmers said their efforts in trying to chase away the insects have failed to bear fruit.

According to Margaret Njeru, the locusts arrived and within no time consumed coffee plants which were at the flowering stage.

Embu County Executive Committee member for Agriculture Jamleck Muturi however assured farmers that the locust control unit has been informed of the situation.

He said a plane would be sent to combat the insects through spraying.

On February 27, Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna denied that the chemicals being used to spray desert locusts are a threat to human lives.

Oguna said that the chemicals have been tested and found to be harmless to humans and the insects are safe to eat.

““I know there are parts of this country where the insects are delicacies like in Western because they are very rich in protein. Duration of oxidation is very low so once they have been sprayed within two hours the drug is oxidised and is not harmful at all,” Oguna said.

According to him, the insects are breeding in areas of hot climatic conditions that are suitable for hatching after burying the eggs five to 10 centimetres deep in sandy soil.

He said so far, ten aircrafts have been used for aerial spraying and surveillance to control the locusts that have invaded 20 counties.

The counties are Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Meru, Embu, Baringo, Turkana, Machakos, Kirinyaga, Tharaka Nithi, Laikipia, Kitui, Tana River, Muranga, Kajiado, West Pokot and Kericho.

Report by Johnson Muriithi and Anthony Ndwiga