Kenya has the pesticides to tackle the country’s locust invasion ready and stored in local warehouses, the Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (AAK) has announced

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is now warning of a 400-fold increase in the
number of locusts in the region by June this year if spraying does not proceed. FAO has hinted that eggs laid by  swarms in January are now hatching, generating increasingly large numbers of locust hoppers.

For other countries in the region, an issue cited by the FAO has been reduced air cargo, which
has prevented the arrival of pesticides. However, Kenya still has ample incoming cargo capacity
and is, instead, held up on government decisions on how to proceed and its procurement.

“As one of Africa’s largest agricultural exporters, we have cargo-only flights, most of which are
still flying. These have traditionally arrived in Kenya nearly empty and left full. Thus, even with
our total air cargo down to a tenth of its normal capacity, it is offering more than 400 tonnes a
week of incoming cargo capacity, which has allowed our industry to bring in far more than the
100 tonnes needed for the next rounds of swarm spraying,” said Eric Kimunguyi, AAK’s CEO

However, working from the experiences available and the insecticides approved globally as safe
for use, the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) carried out a consultation round this year
gathering submissions and test data from which it, last month, announced a list of 64
insecticides suitable for use on locusts.

These have been categorized across those already approved for locust use, those not previously
approved for locust use in Kenya, but where large scale tests show their efficacy, those where their active ingredient should work on locusts, and those where local PCPB tests have
established their efficacy.

All of the 64 have already met safety standards in Kenya or other global regimes for use on
other pests.

“With these recommended products announced, the industry now has in place 200 tonnes of
these pesticides suitable for locust use. Thus, it is now a case of selection and moving to
spraying,” said Eric.

In this, the PCPB has emphasized the need to use varied insecticides to prevent any build up in
resistance by locusts to any one product. The scientists must also select the best product for
eggs and hoppers, where the initially approved list was proven only on mature swarms.


By By Henix Obuchunju

Multimedia journalist

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