Panic as birds wipe out wheat farms in Narok

A massive army of Quelea birds has invaded wheat farms in Narok, threatening to decimate thousands of acres of the crop. The birds, which reportedly migrated from Lake Magadi and Natron in Tanzania, have descended on farms in Nkorinkori, Ntulele, Ololulung’a, Nkareta, Olopita and other wheat belts in the southern and northern parts of the region.

Farmers said unless the birds are contained, the destruction will have adverse effects on the harvest. “They have invaded the farms in large numbers making it difficult for us to manually scare them away,” said John Kameno, a large-scale farmer from Nkorinkori.

He asked the Agriculture ministry to move with speed to contain the situation, failure to which they are likely to incur losses running into millions of shillings. Farmers in the area have expressed concern that if the trend continues, they may only manage to harvest 15 bags per care, compared to last year’s 30.

Substandard fertiliser subsidies form the government and erratic rains have also contributed to poor crop. County director of agriculture John Nkuuku has, however, assured farmers that quick intervention will be taken to mitigate the crisis.

He said the department of Crop Protection under the Ministry of Agriculture will this week dispatch a plane for aerial chemical spraying. “We have completed surveys in identifying their brooding areas. The pesticides will be applied along their roosting sites,” he said, adding that the birds invasion has put the county’s food security and economic stability under threat.

He added that enough necessary equipment for the exercise has been provided. Nkuuku also advised herders to keep their animals off grazing fields near wheat plantations to protect them from the harmful effects of the pesticides. In 2013, the birds invaded approximately 740,000 acres of wheat fields, destroying 400 acres.

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