NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 3- Bayer East Africa has donated 170,000 litres of pesticides worth Sh100 million to help in the fight against desert locusts in Kenya and Uganda.
Speaking during the handover event, Bayer East Africa Chairman Dr. Chris Kirubi said food security should be prioritized in the country and called on the government to partner with Private Sector in ensuring that the country is food secure at all times.
“I would like to request the government to support every partner in chemical industry as a friend. We would like to work closely with you and the Ministry of Agriculture at large so that we discuss solutions for various sectors and the challenges they are facing before they come an emergency,” Kirubi said.
Kirubi reiterated that private sector is alive to the challenges the government and Kenyans at large are facing especially now due to COVID-19 pandemic and locust invasion assuring of their support in offering solutions and assistance where necessary.
“We knew the locusts were coming, they had devastated Somalia and Ethiopia and therefore if we had this pesticide and we would not have experienced the distraction of crops that was caused by locusts. We Bayer and other partners are ready to join you any other time that we are called to give agricultural solutions to Kenya and other East African Countries,” Kirubi added.
“The devastation means a serious food crisis threatens these East African countries with many countries already experiencing food shortages. In Kenya where 34 percent of the country’s GDP comes from agriculture, this invasion marked the worst of its kind in 70 years and threatened the country’s economic and food production,” Bayer Managing Director Laurent Pierre said.
While receiving the donation, Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Lina Jebii Kilimo said the donation comes in handy as it will help the most vulnerable farmers whose crops were ravaged by the locusts.
“Whatever is in our disposal let us give to our fellow Kenyans and be our brothers’ keeper. In this case, the vulnerable farmers in different regions of this country will benefit and you have touched their livelihoods in a big way,” Kilimo said.
Of the 170,000 litres, Kenya received 120, 000 while Uganda received 50, 000 litres.
The Donation was made in partnership with, Agriculture Sector Network, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and Crop Life among others.
More than 10 million people in the East Africa region are facing acute food insecurity due to recent locust plagues that ravaged massive fields of food crops.
With the advent of the planting season, the locust invasion still looms high. This risk coupled with the current COVID-19 pandemic and recent drought and floods in the region, piles additional pressure on food systems hence a key threat to food security.
Earlier this year, the largest swarm that hit Kenya measured 2,400 square kilometers and was made up of 200 billion locusts. The pests consumed nearly 400,000 tons of food every 24 hours which is equivalent to what 84 million people eat each day.
Desert Locusts can travel up to 130 kilometers a day in their frantic race to feed and reproduce.