Kenya requires 2.3 billion shillings (about 23 million U.S. dollars) to eradicate the threat posed by desert locusts that crossed into the country on Dec. 28 last year, an official said on Thursday.

David Mwangi, Director of Plant Protection Services with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries said the government has so far released 5.3 million U.S. dollars to help eradicate the voracious pests. “We have presented a working budget of 23 million dollars to both the National Treasury and international donors to help fight the desert locusts,” Mwangi said. He said that the locusts have spread to 18 counties across the country and posed a potential risk to food security.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, so far nine aircraft have been contracted to combat the desert locusts’ infestation. “Five of the aircraft are fixed-wing for spraying operations while four helicopters are for surveillance to monitor the movement of the pests,” Mwangi said. He said the aircraft are currently stationed in four bases but the government will add two more bases as part of the efforts of upscaling interventions to control the desert locusts in the country. He said that so far 100,000 liters of pesticides have been distributed to all affected regions.

Mwangi said through a partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the government plans to commission an independent organization next week to conduct an assessment of the negative impacts of desert locust in terms of destruction of vegetation and farmlands.


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