The number of counties affected by desert locusts has risen from three to seventeen in the last three months with fears that the number could rise in the coming days.
According to the latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO, in terms of land mass seventy five percent of the country has been affected.
To this end, the government and FAO have engaged the services of 600 NYS servicemen in dealing with the pest in six counties that have been hardest hit.
This emerged during the launch of the training programme for the servicemen in NYS training college in Gilgil.
According to the administration secretary in the State Department of Crops Kello Harsama, the pest was a major threat to the food security in the country.
He noted that ongoing efforts to use aerial spraying had not been successful hence the need to use ground spraying using the NYS officers.
“In December last year only three counties were affected but this has risen to seventeen meaning 75 percent of landmass is under threat from this pest,” he said.
Addressing the servicemen, Harsama said that the ground exercise would be carried out in Isiolo, Turkana, Machakos, Marsabit, Garissa and Wajir.
“We have been using aerial spraying for the last three months and this has not effective and we have decided to use ground spraying as its more effective,” he said.
According to FAO country-representative in the country Dr Tobias Takavarasha, the desert locust had already invaded six countries with Somali and Ethiopia been the hardest hit.
“Apart from Kenya other affected countries are Uganda, Tanzania, Yemen, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somali and hence the need for urgent action,” he said.
He said that the food organization was keen to support the country through funding, capacity building, provision of information and offering expertise in containing the spread of the locusts.
“We are heading to the planting season and thus the need to control the newly hatched locusts as a swarm consumes food for 35,000 people in one day,” he said.
A director with NYS Shock Amudavi said that the training for the exercise would be carried out in Gilgil and Yatta with each college providing 300 servicemen.
“We thank the government and FAO for recognizing efforts done by NYS and we are ready for this fight as the pest means a threat to food security,” he said.