Kenyan Farmers Traumatized as Swarms of Locusts Devour Crops in Seconds

Men attempt to fend off a swarm of desert locusts flying over a grazing land in Samburu County, Kenya. (Njeri Mwangi/Reuters)

The locusts are so bad in some parts of Kenya that entire fields of crops are being devoured in as little as 30 seconds.

Moses Omondi, a program officer at Farm Radio, a charity that works with to bring information and news to farmers, says that in Kitui County, in eastern Kenya, there were no locusts this time last week. Now, entire farms have been destroyed.

Here’s part of his conversation with As It Happens host, Carol Off.

What stories are you hearing from farmers about what this locust infestation is doing to them? 

Today one farmer [told me] all of his crops have already been consumed.

He is affected psychologically to the extent of telling me that, ‘If worst comes to worst, I can even commit suicide.’ The reason being, this is the source of his income. He’s been taking his kid to school using farm produce. He’s been paying bills using farm produce. So according to him, he [says], ‘Moses, if this continues — if the government is not coming to act — then I’m thinking of committing suicide.’

Most farmers are disturbed psychologically. Others are thinking that maybe it’s a curse from God.

What are they trying to do … to see if they can scare these locusts away? 

Currently what most farmers are doing is … drumming.

Others are using whistles. They’re blowing the whistles from morning to evening. Some are even taking their lunch and breakfast and probably dinner … blowing whistles. Others are [using] motorbikes by pressing on the horns to scare the locusts. Others are being helped by police reservists … shooting guns so that the locusts can be scared. Others are shouting — literally shouting — the whole family, shouting on the farm to scare the locusts away.

What is it like? What’s the experience of being in those clouds of locusts? 

It’s fun in the sense that when you’re running through the locusts they’ll come and … try to prick you.

But to some extent, it’s not fun, because when you look at the amount of crops these locusts are consuming you [want to] cry, because this is what … entire families depend on in terms of food security and all that. And, you know, the rains are not there.

That means probably in the next six months or so, entire families will experience hunger.

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Source: CBC