Over the past few months, the Horn of Africa has been plagued by swarms of locusts which has ravaged crops, bewildering farmers.
But the farmers have found a way to make lemon into lemonade — harvesting the locusts and using the destructive insects as an ingredient for animal feed.
Regenerative agriculture company, The Bug Picture is working with communities in Kenya to harvest the insects and mill them, turning them into protein-rich animal feed and biofertilizer for farms.
So far, the initiative has launched in the areas of Laikipia, Isiolo and Samburu.
“We are trying to create hope in a hopeless situation, and help these communities alter their perspective to see these insects as a seasonal crop that can be harvested and sold for money,” said Laura Stanford, founder of The Bug Picture.
Local farmers were troubled by the invasion, especially when the UN Food and Agriculture projected that as many as 3.5 million people could be impacted by May.
Extreme weather patterns have created ideal conditions for surging locust numbers across East Africa and the Horn.
“They’ll finish (everything) look at this corn, if you look at it, it means that it only has today and tomorrow, the day after that there will be nothing left,” farmer Jane Gatumwa told AfricaNews last month. “We used to have some weeds that we used to feed our cattle but nothing is left now, they (the locusts) finished everything, it’s all dried up. “
It seems that now there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The Bug Picture is focusing its efforts on swarms of 5 hectares or less in inhabited areas not suitable for spraying. Locust swarms can travel up to 150 km (93 miles) a day and contain between 40-80 million locusts per square kilometer.
The Kenyan government is also working in partnership with the FAO, World Bank, County Governments, Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and the Desert Locust Control Organisation for Eastern Africa (DLCO-EA), among other stakeholders, to contain the situation.