The invasion by Quelea Birds into Ahero and West Kano Irrigation schemes rice farms has been giving the farmers sleepless nights.
This bird eats up to 10 grams of rice a day and could wipe out an entire acre of rice in two days.
Kisumu CEC in charge of Agriculture Ken Onyango while launching the aerial spraying programme in Nyang’ande, West Kano confirmed that the Quelea Birds were a constant threat to the rice farmers in the county.
A very small drop on any part of the body of the bird or even the smell it will dieTom Oganda
“More than 300 acres have been destroyed by the birds, with an additional 2,000 acres under threat,” said Onyango.
He revealed that the population of Quelea Birds in the county is currently at 5.8 million.
The birds are long-distance migrants, with a capability of covering a range of over 10 million square kilometres and a colony of 1 million to 5 million birds can consume 50 tons of grain a day.
The most affected areas include Wawithi, Ahero, Nyang’ande, Siso, Kolwa, Ombeyi among other areas where rice is commonly grown.
Onyango said the spraying programme will proceed to all the affected areas.
Tom Oganda from the State Department for Plant Protection said the Avicide insecticide is sprayed in the areas slept by the birds in the evening when they come from forage.
Oganda said that the avicide is 70 per cent effective.
“A very small drop on any part of the body of the bird or even the smell it will die,” said
With the effects of the insecticide on the environment, he said they had engaged the community and sensitized them on the effects.
“The farmers should now keep off this area that has been sprayed for the next 30 days,” he said.
Some farmers whose yield were affected by the quelea menace have asked the government to take an early action in future ahead of the upcoming planting.
That is why we ask the Government to help provide more efficient ways to control the Quelea BirdsKennedy Sinogo
Kennedy Sinogo, a farmer in Nyang’ande area said once the birds attacked the buds, the young rice plants dry out.
He said in some seasons, the colonies raid the rice farms as early as 6am until 5pm.
This forces the farmers to keep vigilant in their farms to keep chasing them.
“We understand that the avicide needs to be regulated for the safety of the community and the environment,” he said.
“That is why we ask the Government to help provide more efficient ways to control the Quelea Birds,” he furthered.
Another farmer Vincent Onyango said the birds have discouraged many farmers from planting rice.
He asked the government to intervene and help in eradicating the birds that caused economical threat to the farmers.
The spraying covered the roosting areas of the birds and will go on for the next two weeks.
The Chief Officer also told Lake Region Bulletin that the department used Sh200,000 hire the drone to conduct the aerial spraying.
The invasion of the birds is a threat to food production as the country stares at a food shortage crisis following changing rainfall patterns.