Kenya is preparing itself for another pest: locusts

Covid-19 in Kenya. Or perhaps I should say: the absence of Covid-19 in Kenya. At our nursery, we’re still trying to adhere to the measures – temperature checks, facemasks and endless hand washing. But things are completely different when I leave the farm.

It’s like stepping into a different world. People gave up on social distancing and facemasks months ago here. Shops, restaurants and pubs have all reopened. And the local fashion market is also running as normal again with hundreds of people crowding round to find their favourite brands. It’s unbelievable to see what kind of garments end up in European clothing banks. All the big brands are there and lots of clothes look like they’ve never been worn.

Almost as normal

The sporadic visitors that we welcome from Europe these days can’t believe their eyes when they see how everyone’s out and about here. But after a few days, they’re generally a lot happier. And I get that, because in the Netherlands, it’s still all about the coronavirus. While here, life is almost continuing as normal. The Dutch news channels seems to be dying for some other news items as well. I’ve never seen so many articles about a snowstorm, sledge sales and sharpening of ice skates before.

I can only guess why so far, our experience with Covid-19 has been so different from many other countries. Is it because of the young population? Is it because of the many months of warm weather? The abundance of fresh air? Do people have a stronger immune system here? Did Covid-19 already hit Kenya before we even knew about it? Perhaps we’ll never know.

I hope the situation will stay like this anyway, and that there isn’t going to be a new variant that’s going to put a spanner in the works. Because Africa won’t be able to start vaccinating for a while.

24 km long

Meanwhile, Kenya is preparing itself for another pest. Locusts. The first swarm arrived in Timau last week. Luckily, it quickly disappeared without doing too much damage. But it’s the start of a bigger problem. Most of the locusts are in the north of Kenya, but it’s expected that these swarms will spread across the country. Which will be an enormous problem for Kenya’s food security.

The government is spraying with planes to keep the swarms under control, with varying degrees of success. It’s the huge numbers that are the problem. A small swarm can be as large as 50 ha. The largest swarm seen so far was 24 km long. Perhaps there’s a clever person out there who can develop a virus against locusts?

Thomas Fransen,

General manager, Timaflor

Click here to read more blogs from Thomas.

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