Munya now speaks out over challenges of fighting locusts

Thursday, February 27th, 2020 11:00 | By
Agriculture Cabinet secretary Peter Munya. Photo/File

Logistical challenges in the distribution of chemicals and aircraft fuel have affected efforts to fight the desert locust invasion in 18 counties, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has said.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Livestock yesterday, Munya revealed how a slow and complex process of procuring chemicals and over-dependency on development partners have dealt a blow to fight on desert locusts.

He regretted his ministry has been forced to rely on Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to procure the chemicals after it exhausted the Sh230 million budget set aside by the Treasury to wipe out the insects.

“The situation is even complicated by the fact that the only effective chemicals can be procured from either Japan or Australia,” Munya told the Senators.

“We have a serious challenge with the availability of chemicals. Effective chemicals are not locally available. We rely on private sectors which sometimes lie to you,” he added.

According to him, limited technical capacity among the extension service providers and high rate of spread to many counties had also dented the ministry’s efforts to contain the spread.

 This is in addition to few aircraft for aerial control, equipment, and personnel for ground control.

The CS said FAO, a United Nations body, has been slow in procuring and importing the chemical – Fenitrothion 96 ULV, a control pesticide, for aerial control in the county and the slow process of importation.

“We have even tried to engage the government of Australia so that we can procure government to government, but they have said they don’t want to get involved in private affairs,” he said.

The CS disclosed that an order of 100,000 litres of the chemical from Australia is yet to reach the country more than two weeks after the government asked FAO to procure the product.

He  said challenges in distribution of the chemicals, large volumes of fuel needed for aircraft to spay the vast areas, limited technical capacity of the extension officers, high rate of spread of the insects and inadequate aircraft have slowed down the fight.

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