The ongoing rains have slowed efforts to control spread of locusts even as the United Nations warns of a looming second wave invasion by the voracious insects.
Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga said persistent downpour had hampered spraying “which was going on well across the country.”
Rainfall limits visibility when spraying using aircraft and also makes the chemical ineffective as most of it is washed away by water, he said.
“Rain is the biggest problem at the moment. We cannot spray when it is raining,” said Prof Boga yesterday. The weatherman has, in its latest seven-day forecast covering April 21 to 27, predicted enhanced rainfall in several parts of the country.
Prof Boga said the country had a good supply of chemicals from local purchases and importation through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and other donations.
The FAO warned that the second wave of desert locusts could be 20 times bigger than the first one with farms in East Africa including Kenya seen as high risk areas.
The new swarms, expected to hatch in May, will be descendants of the first generation that the Horn of Africa countries are battling to contain with little or no success. Scientists estimate that the swarms in East Africa will be 400 times bigger by June if successive generations are not eliminated. The Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (AAK) said with the current logistical problems caused by the Covid-19, Kenya still had over 200 tonnes of the pesticides held in warehouses.
“Kenya has the pesticides to tackle the country’s locust invasion, ready with about 200 tonnes stored in local warehouses,” said Eric Kimunguyi, AAK chief executive.
The government had announced last month that outbreak of the pandemic had affected the delivery of the chemicals to the country.
Mr Kimungunyi said unless spraying proceeds promptly, the eggs laid in January will successfully hatch and the swarms impact negatively on crops.
In Kenya, more than 20 counties – including Mandera, Wajir, Samburu, Isiolo, Garissa, Baringo, Turkana, Laikipia, Meru, Kitui, Embu, Machakos, Murang’a, Makueni and Kajiado – have been infested by the insects.