Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi has cautioned locals against eating desert locusts that have invaded the county as they may have traces of chemicals from previous spraying.
The residents have turned the pests into food, terming them delicious. The governor also cautioned the locals against chasing away locusts perched on vegetation in their neighbourhoods as this spreads the risk of invasion. He also assured them that the situation is under control.
In a statement, Mr Kingi said the county government on Thursday dispatched a team of agricultural officers to Magarini Sub-county, where swarms were sighted for the first time.
“The team embarked on a surveillance mission, which included inspection of farms in Magarini and Malindi sub-counties. They confirmed that the pests have indeed invaded the county and are spreading fast,” said Mr Kingi. The surveillance team visited Tangini village in Madina and Mtsungutsunguni village in Masindeni.
The team later proceeded to Jilore Ward in Jilore/Ziani (Sosoni B) and Hongera Bwagalau.
Mr Kingi said the team observed that the insects are at the adult stage, yellow in colour and are believed to be breeding.
He said an estimated 900 acres and 50 acres of land in Marafa and Garashi have been affected respectively. A further surveillance on Friday established that the invasion had spread to all the seven sub-counties in Kilifi.
The governor said the county government is consulting with the Food and Agriculture Organization and Ministry of Agriculture teams with a view to conducting aerial surveillance today.
Due to the rapid nature of the desert locusts migration, the devolved government is also networking with neighbouring counties on surveillance.
Mr Kingi said the response team is currently making arrangements to begin ground and aerial spraying within 10 days.
“Experts have determined that the swarms are not aggressively feeding at the moment as they are more intent on breeding. This explains the minimal damage done to crops and vegetation so far,” he said.
The response team will capitalise on localised presence of the locusts and target them for ground and aerial spraying.
“Trying to scare them away will only cause them to spread further and complicate control measures,” said the Governor.
In Lamu, the county government has also intensified control measures following sightings of the new swarms last week. The worst hit areas include Mangai, Bar’goni, Mswakini, Mararani, Pandanguo, Soroko, Promoko, Hindi, Mpeketoni, Maleli, Miruji, Kitumbini, Moa, Katsaka Kairu, Zebra and Boramoyo.
County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said a team from Nairobi has pitched camp in Lamu and both aerial and ground surveys are being done to map affected areas before spraying begins.