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  • Kenyan farmer Mwende Kimanzi looks at the damage caused to her crops after locusts swarm descended on it in the region of Kyuso, Kenya, February 18, 2020.

    Kenyan farmer Mwende Kimanzi looks at the damage caused to her crops after locusts swarm descended on it in the region of Kyuso, Kenya, February 18, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 February 2020
Opinion

Usually she sells the lentils and keeps the rest for her family, but the locusts’ arrival in Kyuso, about 200 kilometers east of the capital Nairobi, means they could soon go hungry.

Kenyan farmer Mwende Kimanzi said planes started spraying as soon as the swarm of desert locusts appeared but it was not enough to save her crops.

RELATED:
UN Warns Desert Locusts Spreading in East Africa

The 38-year-old mother of three says the locusts landed in her fields two weeks ago and since then they have been eating their way through her sorghum, millet, and lentils while she tries to chase them away. 

Usually, she sells the lentils and keeps the rest for her family, but the locusts’ arrival in Kyuso, about 200 kilometers east of the capital Nairobi, means they could soon go hungry.

Farmers called the authorities as soon as the locusts arrived. Authorities used planes to spray the swarm, and while some died most ended up in Kimanzi’s fields.

“The locusts appeared, and we called the authorities immediately. The airplanes started spraying from that edge of the river. Some died, but the rest of the swarm moved to our farms. They destroyed everything here then. They have now moved to our homes. They are now laying eggs there,” Kimanzi said.

She has only managed to harvest one bag of millet and one bag of lentils since the locust invasion.

“The rest of the crops were all destroyed,” she said. “There is nothing left. We will still face hunger.”

The swarms, first sighted in December, have already destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of farmland in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, threatening food supplies in the worst locust invasion in 70 years.

On Tuesday evening, Jordan's Ministry of Agriculture announced a state of emergency to be raised to the maximum as the swarm was heading to Saudi Arabia after crossing Yemen.  

Desert locusts can travel up to 150 kilometers in a day and eat their own body weight in greenery, meaning a swarm just one-kilometer square can eat as much food as 35,000 people in a day, the United Nations warns.

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