A revolution marches on its stomach and a locust invasion can trigger the ‘Unga Revolution’
By Undercover Reporter
Those tiny winged sumbua things called desert locusts will shortly see Kenyans spending more on dates, dancing and even dying. A locust invasion also has the potential to trigger a political revolution.
See, the ongoing rains have turned most parts of Kenya into a lush carpet of garden and now the locusts are having a field day with our crops. The second round of invasion will come calling shortly, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
As we speak, Kenya has run out of pesticides for aerial spraying after using whistles, smoke and tear gas failed. Using choppers has not helped matters as Dr Muo Kasina explained that helicopters can hardly access locusts when they take night naps in deep valleys and mountain gorges where they breed still.
Never mind the Ministry of Agriculture has so far burnt over Sh230 million and the locusts are undeterred. It has since turned to external experts. The eight counties-and counting- where the locusts are unwanted tourists have employed drumming to keep them away but it seems it just music to their ears.
This has been the worst locust invasion since Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Uhuru Kenyatta’s father was a young man in the 1940s. The last locust invasion was in 2007. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned Kenya of the looming invasion as early as June last year, but as usual it was a dialogue of the deaf.
Dr Stephen Njoka, the Director General of Desert Locust Control Organization, blames irregular weather and climate conditions in for the locust invasion. The lack of a government in Somalia to contain them has also contributed, but the current wet conditions in Kenya have made it even more attractive but Njoka predicts they might not go hopping to the Rift Valley, our bread basket.
So, how will they see us spending more on romance, clubbing and even funerals?
Well, for starters, Dr Kasina and his team at the Entomological Society of Kenya have detected about 20 swarms of locusts making a beeline from Somalia to Kenya. Just one swarm has 80 million locusts. Although we are blowing our precious taxes on the BBI, Kenya does not have even one drone for effective aerial spraying and we have to seek help from the land of Mr Trump, Israel or Denmark.
Just one small swarm can consume in one day food meant for 35, 000 people
If one swarm has 80million hungry locusts that translates to 1.6 billion Desert Locusts, a lethal species of the grasshopper family that eats every green matter in its sight — have the potential to destroy seasons of food, prompting acute hunger and substantially slowing down the economy that is dependent on agriculture like Kenya.
According to FAO, just one small swarm can consume in one day food meant for 35, 000 people.
This means Kenyan farmers will experience poor harvests which will create food shortage and the scarcity will in turn nose north the cost of food and the attendant cost of living.
Funerals in which Kenyans mourners love being fed will increase burial expenses and so will the cost of dating and eating out go up alongside and in turn, this will eat into entertainment budgets meaning spending less time clubbing.
The locusts will also affect livestock as they’re feeding on shrubbery and greens which comprise the pasture meant for dairy and beef cattle. This could affect the quantity of milk and meat and with it, an increase in prices as well as farmers try to recover the cost of buying hay to cover up for the shortage occasioned by locusts.
Locust invasion a recipe for the ‘Unga Revolution’
Food security expert Jasper Mwesigwa foresees “substantial losses” as the locusts might take six months to clip their wings and this could lead to human-wildlife conflict in areas where the locusts feed on green leaf lunch and supper meant for wildlife. Agriculture officials estimate that 500,000 hectares of pasture and cropland have so far been destroyed by locusts in Mandera, Marsabit, Wajir, Isiolo, Meru and Samburu counties. By the end of last week, the insects had covered more than one million hectares of land in Kenya.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has already termed the invasion a “systemic risk” and warned of looming inflation and reduced economic growth for 2020 courtesy of the havoc the locusts will cause to an already bowlegged economy.
A locust invasion can trigger political unrest via shortage of food which has been a recipe for the ‘Unga Revolution’ right here in Kenya. Elsewhere like in India, Prime Ministers have their butts kicked to the pavement over rising prices of kitunguu and pilipili.