NewsThursday January 12 2023
The government has begun an aerial bird control operation to wipe out the destructive quelea birds that have invaded rice farms in Kisumu County.
The initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Agriculture is targeting to eradicate 5.8 million birds in nine different locations where the birds hide at night.
Kisumu County Executive Member for Agriculture Ken Onyango, while announcing the invasion by the birds, revealed that two rice schemes are worst affected.
“Our farmers have incurred huge losses as some 300 acres of rice fields have been destroyed by the birds with 2,000 more acres under threat,” he said.
Upon receiving reports from field officers, the county government sought help from the national government and a team from Kilimo House arrived at the lakeside city armed with equipment and chemicals.
“As a result, the department of Crop Protection and Safety from Nairobi has been dispatched to Kisumu today to start a massive campaign to fight the birds through spraying,” said Mr Onyango.
Nyando is the worst-hit region followed by Nyakach and Muhoroni.
Also read: Kisumu rice growers count losses after Nyando banks burst
Most of the birds have migrated to Okana Irrigation scheme from Kisumu East Sub-County, said a report from Kisumu County.
“Our operation will cover the National Irrigation Authority area in Muhoroni, Awach Kano, Ogange, Amboo, Okana, Ogongo, Kudho, Haro and Alara,” it added.
They attributed the invasion to partial control by the crop protection unit noting that the last crop protection was done in March 2022.
He said that the unsynchronised cropping calendar in the rice schemes and the growing of sorghum in the area caused the surge of birds.
It is estimated that an average quelea bird eats around 10 grams of grain per day and a flock of 2 million birds can eat as much as 20 tonnes of grain in a single day.