Hazardous “ipomoea’ weed poses danger to pastoralists

Pastoralists from Kajiado County have appealed to the County Government to help them fight against ‘Ipomoea’, a poisonous invasive weed that has destroyed acres of pastureland.

According to Mark Letoire, a livestock farmer from Imaroro Ward, Kajiado East, at least 5000 acres of his land have been invaded by the poisonous weed.

Letoire revealed that the weed has spread quickly with the onset of the rains thereby destroying acres of pastures with herders being forced to buy feeds for his livestock.

The weed started spreading fast when the rains started. There is no more grass for my livestock to feed on and I have been forced to buy feeds for them. We appeal to the County to come to our aid and help us get rid of this weed before it eats up all the grass, he said.

David Soloi, a livestock farmer from Kajiado Central, said the weed has invaded half of his pasture land and he had been forced to take some of his livestock to his brother’s farm as he cannot afford to feed them.

This weed is very dangerous where it grows grass cannot grow and it spreads so fast. If not controlled; then we will no longer have pasture for our animals. We appeal to the County government to come to our aid even if it will be hiring a few of us to do this work of uprooting the plant, he said.

According to Kajiado County Coordinator of Agricultural Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP), Halima Nenkari, Kajiado is among the most affected counties in Kenya by the Ipomoea weed.

In a survey that we did in 2016 at least 1 million acres in the County had been affected but this could rise because of the rains and its fast pace of spreading, she said.

Nenkari said that ‘Ipomoea’ which is also known as Olbeneyio, Oltiameleteti or Oltiameleshi in the local Maasai language was first cited in Kajiado in 1995 and has been hard to completely get rid of because of the favourable conditions it finds in the affected counties.

She noted that the best method of wiping out the hazardous weed is uprooting it continuously for a period of three years to stop it from growing or cutting its flowers which carries the seeds to stop its spread.

We have held several capacity building meetings with locals and trained at least 1000 people from the five pastoral fields on how best to control the menace which is only through uprooting since spraying will cause death of livestock due to chemicals effects, Nenkari said.

Kajiado County has been adversely affected by Ipomoea weed with Kajiado central sub county being the most affected of all the five sub counties with 60% invasion by the weed.

Source: Kenya News Agency