Connect with us

News

Locust invasion: what shall we eat?

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Retired army officer Francis Mugwika has fought and won many battles. But he has lost the fight against locusts not once, not twice, but thrice in just two months.

This past week we found an inconsolable Mr Mugwika on his 12-acre farm in the rocky Kathuri hamlet in Tharaka North.

His green grams and millet were first attacked in early January.

The pests that entered the country on December 28 and have now covered 20 counties would, in their second and third visits, wipe out the entire crop.

For a model farm, the loss could not have been more devastating. Now what remains are browning fruitless stalks that seem to mock his efforts.

A visit by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and Governor Muthoki Njuki on February 17 offered him a glimmer of hope that was soon dashed.

“County officials told us not to disturb the swarms so that they could be sprayed to prevent them from spreading to other farms. They told us that they would compensate us for offering our farms as a sacrifice to save others. But nothing has come of the promise,” said Mr Mugwika.

He said that had he been allowed to fight the pests he would have saved some crops. The loss is all the more shattering as it came following a prolonged drought.

“It hadn’t rained properly for three years and we were hopeful. We bought seeds at a very high price. They have finished me and I now leave everything to God,” he lamented.

He was expecting 12 bags of green grams, which would have gone for at least Sh100 a kilo, and 36 bags of millet, which is sold at Sh40 a kilo.

“We had never seen anything like it before. We saw them at 6pm and began beating tins, sufurias and anything we could lay our hands on, but they were too many. Help came too late,” he said.

The voracious pests did not spare even shrubs, a valuable goat feed in the semi-arid land.

“We had been told that an aircraft would come to spray them but it never came. We were relying on the crop for everything. We plead with the government to compensate us.”

So virulent was the second attack that help from pupils of a nearby primary school could not save the crop from the ravenous pests that eat their own weight in a day.

“Every time the vegetation tries to sprout it is nipped in the bud by another attack,” Mr Mugwika said.

The eggs laid during the first visit have hatched and the pests are approaching maturity.

During the tour, the Nation team spotted a few hoppers. They are brown and markedly different from the mature yellow ones. In the fertile plains of Mwingi West in neighbouring Kitui County, we visited Thitoni in the aftermath of spraying, which farmers lauded as successful. Thitoni location chief Josephine Mathenge told the Nation that three swarms of locusts landed in the area on Monday last week and were promptly sprayed.

“We called agricultural officers who sprayed them. Some died while others flew towards Machakos County,” Ms Mathenge said.

She said that the chemicals work well and refuted claims by some residents that government efforts were ineffectual.

In Uiini, Kilela and Mbaunzo villages, which were attacked, much of the maize and green grams remained untouched. Ngula Mwendwa, 83, said the 1954 locust invasion was worse than the present attack. “They died immediately after they were sprayed. Then the next day there was an awful smell in the air,” he said. The county government of Kitui has singled out Tharaka and Tseikuru wards in Mwingi North as the most affected with Mgatra, Ngongoni and Gacigogo villages being the worst hit.

Breeding sites have been identified in Kyuso and Tseikuru wards. During our visit on February 19 and 20, Dr Wathe Nzau, the deputy governor, explained that spraying had been halted because of “normal servicing” even as sceptical experts suspected shortage of resources.

In Central Kenya, the pests descended on farms in Mukurwe-ini, Nyeri County, but damage was minimal. A Nation team that toured the region to assess the extent of damage caused by the pests met desperate farmers who said they used all in their means to chase the insects away. “They are like lawnmowers. They ate my napier grass and sweet potatoes to the ground,” said Ms Mary Gathoni. She said that had it not been for the trees in the forested Mukurwe-ini, the effect on coffee, the region’s most important cash crop, would have been devastating.

But experts reckon the insects would not have stayed for long in the cold environment.

In Embu, intensive spraying was ongoing in Mbeere South where the pests have attacked mainly pasture and shrubs sporadically since January 24, with Kiambere and Mavuria wards being the most affected.

A situation report presented to the County Assembly by the Agriculture executive said locusts destroyed mainly acacia trees.

“The locust control unit responded quickly and sprayed using fenitrothion,” says the report.

It estimates that little was lost because much of the crop had been harvested by the time of the attack. “The only crop affected was cowpeas. We estimate to have lost about 50 hectares, green grams (25), sorghum (20), napier grass (six), tomatoes (six) and acacia (200).

The report also refers to a “peculiar case at Isako where one woman was affected by the pesticide and was rushed to a near dispensary”.

No effects on livestock were reported.

The executive formed surveillance teams to monitor the pest and speed up response, says the report.

The national government trained and deployed 40 National Youth Service personnel to assist in spraying chemicals.

“The county has sensitised the community on the use of integrated locust control methods (use of smoke, noise, and throwing stones at swarms), the report says.

Dr Timothy Njagi of the Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development, a think tank, warns that while there has been little effect on crop growing areas, arid and semi-arid lands have suffered huge losses.

But it has not been all gloom. The Swahili saying vita vya panzi neema ya kunguru (a hoppers’ fight is a raven’s gain) might as well explain the windfall for dogs in locust-infested areas.

The canines, most of which have to make do with leftover food in most rural homes, have had a field day.

Yet despite all evidence of the richness of the insects as a source of protein for humans, the culture has not caught on in Kenya and the food goes to waste.

In a hilarious video doing the rounds on social media, a man purportedly from western Kenya laments that the food is being sprayed indiscriminately yet he and his friends would have been hired to go and clear them.

In reality though, there has not been any serious uptake from Kenyans.

Dr Muo Kasina, the Entomological Society of Kenya chairman, says that a lot can be saved if the government adopts consumption of locusts as a control measure.

“The government needs to be convinced about this. It has not been discussed by the government as a major food and feeds source,” he said in an interview.

“It is a great protein supplement for animal feeds. I am happy about reports of Kenyan business experts willing to buy locusts for feeds. They are super foods and feeds.”

The latest regions to be invaded by the pests are Bungoma, Baringo and West Pokot.

What complicates locust control is that while the pest is suited for harsh conditions, it takes advantage of good conditions to breed and thrive.

Three cyclones — two in 2018 and one last year — are responsible for the explosion of the pest’s population in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

A cyclone from the Indian Ocean hit a remote area of the Arabian Peninsula known as the Empty Quarter, and the arising wetness gave the huge sandy area excellent conditions for egg-laying and breeding.

Scientists now predict that the cyclones will become more frequent as rising sea temperatures supercharge storms.

Insecurity in Somalia and Yemen, lack of resources and safety concerns in densely populated areas hamper a more robust control drive that experts say is needed to prevent the situation from becoming a catastrophe.

In Kenya, the pest is breeding fast and is expected to multiply 20-fold by crop planting time next month.

To deal with the problem, experts urge upscaling of control efforts. So far, the UN says $22 million (about Sh2.2 billion) of the $76 million (about Sh7.6 billion) it needs to combat the menace has been either received or pledged.

Yesterday, Agricultural Research Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga said NYS personnel would be sent to other affected regions after deployment in Isiolo and Samburu.

“Their role is mainly ground control. Fifty to 100 youths will be trained in every county to support them,” Prof Boga said.

By Nation


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Courts

Four children fight claims they were disowned by late MP

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Four children of former Keiyo North MP William Murgor yesterday fought allegations that they had been disowned by their father before his death.

While testifying before the High Court in Eldoret, Ambrose Kiplagat Murgor, one of the four children said to have been born out of wedlock, told the court their father never disowned him or any of his three siblings.

While being cross-examined before Justice Hellen Omondi, Mr Kiplagat said he was a biological child of the late MP, adding that the contrary claims were only made to lock him and his siblings out of the MP’s vast estate.

“My late father never disowned me or my siblings,” Kiplagat told the court.

He said he was born in 1970 at Murgor’s Kaptagat farm before they moved in 1976 to Chesigot farm in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

The four – Kiplagat, Oscar Murgor, Sharon Murgor and Faith Murgor – who are children of the former MP’s fourth wife Anna Kimoi, have told the court they were brought up with the other children.

“We were raised together with the other siblings from the different houses. I was in school with my two brothers, Collins and Kenneth, in the same primary school, all along living as brothers,” he added.

He told the court that he did not know the reasons as to why he and his brother Oscar did not get a share of their father’s farms like rest of his siblings.

Kiplagat added that his elder sister Enid Cheptanui filed the case against her step-brother Francis Murgor, Chemutai Murgor and Keiyo North MP Dr James Murgor for excluding them in the distribution of the Sh1.4 billion family estate.

While testifying in the succession dispute, James denied knowing Kiplagat and his three siblings Oscar, Sheila and Faith Murgor.

While James claimed to have only been familiar with them for a few years, Kiplagat on the other hand told the court the MP was well known to him and that he had even campaigned for him.

“I campaigned for him in three elections, and he always introduced me as his brother. When my mother was sick, I was in contact with the MP, who even helped in paying the hospital bill,”

by Stanardmedia.co.ke


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Continue Reading

Lifestyle

Mukhisa Kituyi: Why I think I can be a good President

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

He is considered one of Kenya’s finest brains and has held several high positions both locally and internationally.

Currently serving as the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Dr Mukhisa Kituyi’s decorated CV is impeccable.

In an interview with a local TV station on Wednesday, Kituyi spoke of his desire to occupy Kenya’s top seat, saying rising from adversity during his childhood days is a huge motivation.

“As I have gone to 119 countries around the world, I am constantly asking myself what they are doing better than us that makes them shine.

“I feel my body still has the energy…my head still has the intellectual capacity to make that contribution in a practical way…” he said.

Adding: “I have a sense of shared empathy with the vulnerable, not only a desire to give hope to the hopeless but a burning ambition that through enterprise Kenya, I can be part of the solutions to build Kenya for the next generation.”

Kituyi said once he leaves his position at the UN he will share his ideas with Kenyans and he strongly believes he will be the right person for the job.

“In the increasingly likely case that I will be offering candidature for President of this country after I leave my position with the UN, I think I will give the Kenyan population reason why I think I will be the right person for that job.

“I cannot do it while I am still winding down my international obligations but I think I am the face of a set of Kenyans who believe in purposeful Kenya,” he said.

Responding to those who claim he is not in touch with the realities on the ground due to extensive travel, Kituyi said he believes in constant learning and does not have all the answers but wants to be part of a team that will engage in structured positive conversations.

Mukhisa has also had stints in the political arena having been elected to the Kenyan Parliament for the first time in 1992 on a Ford-Kenya ticket and was re-elected in 1997 and 2002 as Kimilili MP.

He was also Kenya’s Minister of Trade and Industry from 2002 to 2007. During this period, Kituyi chaired the Council of Ministers of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the African Trade Ministers’ Council for two years.

He also served as chairman of the Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, and was the lead negotiator for Eastern and Southern African ministers during the European Union-ACP Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations.

He was convenor of the agriculture negotiations carried out at the World Trade Organization’s Sixth Ministerial Conference held in Hong Kong, China in 2005.

From 2008 to 2012, Kituyi was a member of a team of experts advising the presidents of the nations of the East African Community on how to establish more effective regional economic links.

From 2011 to 2012, he was a consultant for the African Union Commission, where he helped to develop the structure for a pan-African free trade area.

Immediately before becoming UNCTAD Secretary-General, Kituyi was Chief Executive of the Kenya Institute of Governance based in Nairobi.

by Standardmedia.co.ke


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Continue Reading

Lifestyle

Man’s burial inside his house baffles Kirinyaga residents

Published

on

Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Residents of Mucagara Village in Kirinyaga County were on Wednesday evening treated to a rare funeral after a man was buried inside his house.

They watched in astonishment as the coffin containing the remains of the 65-year-old retired coffee factory manager, Simon Muriithi Mwaniki, was lowered into the grave that had been dug in the living room.

Some whispered to each other during the dramatic send-off which left many in awe.

According to the man’s relative, prior to his death, he had expressed his wish to be buried in the house.

Emotions ran high as the funeral ceremony went on in the village in Gichugu Constituency.

“We had to act according to his wishes to avoid a curse and being haunted by his spirits,” said Mr James Njuki, the man’s eldest son.

Mwaniki was hurriedly buried in a brief ceremony conducted by an African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa priest, Jackson Muchiri.

Committed suicide

When Mwaniki committed suicide, no one mourned his death as he had asked family members not to do so when he was alive.

“Before he took his life he had told us that there should be no mourning when he dies. Therefore, we ensured that we never gathered at any time within the homestead to mourn him,” added Mr Njuki.

Mr Njuki recalled how on November 18 they found their father dangling from the roof of his house with a rope around his neck.

It was then that the matter was reported to the local police officers who drove to the scene and took the body to Kibugi Funeral Home.

His children suspected that their father took his life due to the depression he suffered after his wife, Juliana Muthoni, died.

“My father started drinking heavily after his wife died. He loved my mother so much and we think he was so much affected by her death and became depressed,” said Mr Njuki.

Rev Muchiri described the funeral as unique.

“For the 38 years that I have been conducting funerals, this is the first time to bury someone inside a house,” he said.

The residents said they were taken aback when they arrived at the homestead and saw the grave inside Mwaniki’s house.

“We were baffled. We have never witnessed such a funeral in this village. This is a funeral of its own kind which shocked all of us,” Mr Eliud Muriithi said.

by nation.africa


Spread the love by sharing this post with family and friends
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Continue Reading

Special Offer: Own one starting at Ksh 3.7M


poapay3

Like us on Facebook, stay informed

NEWS TRENDING RIGHT NOW

2020 Calendar

February 2020
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
242526272829  
satellite-communication1.jpg

Trending