1. Agriculture World

What a Fight Back: Farmers in Kenya Make Animal Feed & Fertilizers from a Locust Plague

Prity Barman
Prity Barman

Kenya is fighting some of the most horrible plagues of locusts in decades, but The Bug Picture (a start-up) aims to turn the pests into profits and bring some 'hope to the hopeless' to those whose crops and livelihoods was destroyed by the insects. 

Unusual weather trends caused by climate change have created perfect conditions for increasing locust numbers across East Africa and the Horn, which have damaged crops and grazing grounds. 

Scientists believe that warmer seas create more rain due to which latent eggs wake up, and cyclones scattering swarms are getting stronger and more frequent. 

The Bug Picture works with communities in central Kenya around the region of Laikipia, Isiolo and Samburu to collect and mill the insects, converting them into protein-rich animal feed and organic manure. ‘In a desperate scenario, we are seeking to build hope to help these populations shift their outlook to see these insects as a seasonal crop that can be grown for money and sold,’ said Laura Stanford, The Bug Picture founder. 

Clouds of locusts are devouring seeds and other plants in central Kenya's Laikipia. The Bug Image targets swarms of 5 hectares or less in populated areas not appropriate for spraying. 

Up to 150 km (93 miles) a day, swarms can fly and can contain from 40-80 million locusts per square kilometer. As they get into the fields, they eat all the crops. As farmer Joseph Mejia said, 'there are so many of them that you can't tell them apart, which are crops and which are locusts.'   

The Bug Picture pays 50 Kenyan shillings per kilogram of insects to Mejia and his neighbors. According to Stanford, who said she was motivated by a project in Pakistan, supervised by the state-run Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, from Feb. 1-18, the project oversaw the harvest of 1.3 tons of locusts. The locusts are harvested by torchlight at night while they are sleeping on shrubs and trees. 

'The community collects locusts and then they are weighed and paid according to the weight' said Albert Lemasulani, a start-up field organizer. 

Insects are crushed and roasted, and milled and processed into a powder which is further used in animal feed or organic fertiliser. 

Like this article?

Hey! I am Prity Barman. Did you liked this article and have suggestions to improve this article? Mail me your suggestions and feedback.

Share your comments

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters