'Nothing left': Kenyan mother's fields stripped by locust swarm

by Reuters
Wednesday, 19 February 2020 15:29 GMT

Kenyan farmer Mwende Kimanzi tries to chase away individual locusts that remained after a swarm descended on her crops in the region of Kyuso, Kenya, February 18, 2020. Picture taken February 18, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

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Locust swarms, first sighted in December, have already destroyed tens of thousands of hectares (acres) of farmland in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia

KYUSO, Kenya, Feb 19 (Reuters) - 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.

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.

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Usually she sells the lentils and keeps the rest for her family, but the locusts' arrival in Kyuso, about 200 km (125 miles) 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 aeroplanes started the 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.

Locusts are seen as they mate in the region of Kyuso, Kenya, February 18, 2020. Picture taken February 18, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

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 (acres) of farmland in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, threatening food supplies in the worst locust invasion in 70 years.

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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