The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on Friday donated three aircrafts to boost Kenya’s fight against desert locusts that have spread to 26 counties in the country.
Tobias Takavarasha, FAO representative in Kenya said that the aircrafts will help intensify aerial and ground desert locust control activities.
“We hope the donation will help Kenya upscale response actions during the current level three emergency,” Takavarasha said.
He said that donation that now makes total aircrafts delivered to the country to five will provide a much-needed boost to the desert locust control efforts.
Takavarasha hailed donors for their response to the desert locust menace that is affecting Kenya and seven other countries in the Greater Horn of Africa region.
He said that the new swarms have recently been reported to have flown in from Ethiopia and Somalia as first-generation hopper bands have also been sighted to have hatched in northern and eastern parts of the country.
Takavarasha said that during the first phase of desert locust control measures, FAO and the government of Kenya deployed four spray aircrafts and four surveillance aircrafts in northern parts of the country grappling with the voracious pests.
“These aircrafts have for the last two months undertaken aerial surveillance and control of locust swarms in the affected regions,” said Takavarasha.
Hamadi Boga, principal secretary for the State Department for Crops Development and Agriculture Research in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Blue Economy and Cooperatives hailed support from FAO that will boost the war against desert locusts.
“The additional aircrafts are very timely, and will be deployed to desert locust control bases in Isiolo, Turkana and Marsabit counties in northern and northwestern Kenya respectively,” said Boga.
He said that the counties are very vast geographically, and aerial control is the most effective course of action for the mature and immature swarms that continue to come in from Ethiopia and Somalia.
Boga said that with the tracking tool that was donated by FAO, Kenyan officials are capable of monitoring the movements of desert locust, their pattern and where they are heading to.
“With more than 3.1 million people facing acute food insecurity in the semi-arid areas of the country, uncontrolled breeding of the desert locusts poses the risk of decimation of crops grown at the germination stage as well as loss of pasture,” said Boga.
FAO recently made an appeal for 13.8 billion shillings (138 million dollars) to support action on desert locusts in the greater horn of African region.