Retired army officer Francis Mugwika has fought and won many battles. But he has lost the fight against locusts not once, not twice, but thrice in just two months.
His green grams and millet were first attacked in early January.
The pests that entered the country on December 28 and have now covered 20 counties would, in their second and third visits, wipe out the entire crop.
For a model farm, the loss could not have been more devastating. Now what remains are browning fruitless stalks that seem to mock his efforts.
A visit by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and Governor Muthoki Njuki on February 17 offered him a glimmer of hope that was soon dashed.
“County officials told us not to disturb the swarms so that they could be sprayed to prevent them from spreading to other farms. They told us that they would compensate us for offering our farms as a sacrifice to save others. But nothing has come of the promise,” said Mr Mugwika.
He said that had he been allowed to fight the pests he would have saved some crops. The loss is all the more shattering as it came following a prolonged drought.
“It hadn’t rained properly for three years and we were hopeful. We bought seeds at a very high price. They have finished me and I now leave everything to God,” he lamented.
He was expecting 12 bags of green grams, which would have gone for at least Sh100 a kilo, and 36 bags of millet, which is sold at Sh40 a kilo.
“We had never seen anything like it before. We saw them at 6pm and began beating tins, sufurias and anything we could lay our hands on, but they were too many. Help came too late,” he said.
The voracious pests did not spare even shrubs, a valuable goat feed in the semi-arid land.
“We had been told that an aircraft would come to spray them but it never came. We were relying on the crop for everything. We plead with the government to compensate us.”
So virulent was the second attack that help from pupils of a nearby primary school could not save the crop from the ravenous pests that eat their own weight in a day.