Irrigation agency to begin aerial spraying against birds ravaging rice farms

A Quelea bird. Photo Courtesy.

Rice farmers have been assured of their produce’s safety after the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) announced its collaboration with the Department of Crop Protection to mitigate the effects of Quelea birds that have been ravaging their farms.

West Kenya Schemes (WKS) Manager Kennedy Ouma said that they will initiate a massive campaign to fight the birds through aerial spraying.

He said that the invasion by the Quelea birds in Ahero and West Kano Irrigation Schemes’ rice farms has been giving farmers sleepless nights, especially due to their large numbers they are estimated to have the potential to wipe out an entire acre of rice in two days.

The birds, whose population in the country stands at 5.8 million, are long-distance migrants with the capability of covering a range of over 10 million square kilometres while a colony of 1 million to 5 million birds can consume 50 tonnes of grain a day.

Kisumu CEC for Agriculture Ken Onyango, while launching the aerial spraying programme in Nyang’ande, West Kano early this year, confirmed that the birds had already destroyed more than 300 acres with an additional 2,000 under threat.

The most affected areas include Wawithi, Ahero, Nyang’ande, Siso, Kolwa and Ombeyi among other areas where rice is commonly grown.

Tom Oganda from the State Department for Plant Protection said the effectiveness of the avicide is ranked at 70%.

On the side effects of the avicide on the environment, he said that they had engaged the community and sensitized them appropriately.

He urged the farmers to register with the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) in order to get subsidized fertilizer to maximize their production.

By Fredrick Odiero

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