The Food and Agriculture Organisation agency has warned that the new locust invasion in December could be worse than the last.
The Organisation said that Cyclone Gati, which struck Somali last week, could hasten the new swarms’ maturity.
New wave in mid-December
A few weeks ago, FAO had warned that Kenya should brace for a new locust invasion from mid-December. They said that new swarms were hatching in Somali and Ethiopia and would soon fly southwards with the South winds.
However, Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture had remained bullish, declaring that they were ready for the new invasion. However, it seems that things may end up worse than initially feared with the latest from FAO.
FAO said that Cyclone Gati had formed in the Indian Ocean from Tuesday to Saturday, leading to heavy rains on Somalia’s northern coast. This place is usually the driest in the whole country.
Locusts need moisture and cold weather to lay eggs and mature faster. However, they then migrate to drier parts in their adult stage, when they begin feasting on any vegetation they can get.
The agency added these swarms would migrate to the South of Somali and south of Ethiopia before finding their way into Kenya by Mid-December. They warned that the migrating pests’ potential destructive scale could be massive, calling for heightened vigilance and country preparations.
Kenyan’s Agriculture Ministry has, however, began surveying potential entry points and hotspots for the locusts. These are the same counties that saw the worst of the invasive hoppers. Turkana, Laikipia, Isiolo, Samburu, Baringo, and Elgeyo Marakwet are all on the Ministry’s radar.
The news comes even as a second-generation sweeps across Samburu, destroying over 20 acres of pasture. The swarms have formed at Ndoto Hills and are tearing in the vegetation, which provides a lifeline for pastoralists during the dry season.
Mr. Daniel Leisagor, Samburu Special Programmes Chief Officer, said they had already sprayed swarms in the hills. However, there could be more as the slope is bushy and mostly inaccessible.