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Locusts eat the heart of Kenya, hit all Mt. Kenya counties, some from Rift Valley, Experts warn acute food shortage

Locusts hit Garba-Tula in Isiolo county. PHOTO | NMG
Locusts hit Garba-Tula in Isiolo county. PHOTO | NMG

The country food basket is invaded by locusts. According to experts, Kenya will plunge into a hunger that everything green will fade if no enough rains this year. 

The Locusts have hit central Kenya, the heart of Kenya. Laikipia, Embu, Meru, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, and Kiambu are considered to be the heart of Kenya in exports. 

Currently, locusts are hitting Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Meru, Kirinyaga, Samburu and other North-Eastern counties.

Experts say the pests have the potential of destroying swathes of maize, coffee, vegetable, and tea plantations, and can knock down seasons of food, prompting acute hunger.

Any disruption in the agriculture sector, a major driver of Kenya’s economy that contributes up to Sh2.9 trillion, according to last year’s estimates, can substantially slow down growth.

On Monday, the pests had reached Kirinyaga and Laikipia, two counties with substantial agriculture, raising fears that other neighbouring regions could be affected.

Laikipia is home to large-scale farms where some of Kenya’s best agricultural efforts have been demonstrated.

Locusts were first spotted in Mandera on December 28 before they spread to neighboring Wajir, Garissa, and Marsabit. They have now entered Isiolo, Meru, and Samburu.

Dr. Muo Kasina, the Entomological Society of Kenya chairman, said the locusts were blown by the wind from the Middle East, where they have been causing damage for the last 18 months.

An average swarm contains between 10 and 50 million locusts, but can be larger, and can fly for between 100 and 150 kilometers a day.

Swarms can travel up to 130km-200Km (80-130 miles) per day and a kilometer-wide swarm can contain up to 80 million locusts, according to Food and Agricultural Organisation.

“The current population is not a major problem. What will result from the swarm, which is the next generation of locusts, will become the biggest problem,” said Dr. Kasina.

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