According to FAO, the latest Desert Locust outbreak is the worst in 25 years

A serious and widespread Desert Locust outbreak is destroying crops and pasture across eastern Ethiopia and neighboring areas of Somalia, parts of Sudan, Eritrea and northern Kenya with a high risk of further spread.

BY MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE

The Migratory Pests Control Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture informed that Desert Locust control operation is still underway in the Northern Red Sea Region of the country.

According to the information from the unit, so far more than 17,000 hectares of land infested with desert locust is treated in Northern Red Sea Region starting from November 2019.

The control operations are being conducted from five base stations namely; Marsa-Gulbub, Sheeb, Wekiro, Girat (Emahmime) and Foro.

When it comes to crop situation, crop harvesting is already started in Sheeb, Afabet and Wekiro and; Crops in Emberemi and Foro are at their fruiting stage. However, Karora and Emahmime crops are still under seedling and knee-height stages.

Based on the reports from the region, since ecological conditions are favorable for locust breeding, more infestation is expected. In addition, various swarms are still coming from different directions of neighboring to the Northern Red Sea Region.

According to Desert Locust Watch, the Desert Locust situation remains extremely serious in the Horn of Africa where it threatens pastures and crops in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

Numerous swarms have formed in eastern Ethiopia and adjacent areas of northern Somalia. A number of large immature swarms moved south in the Ogaden of eastern Ethiopia and adjacent areas of central Somalia and reached southern Somalia, southeast Ethiopia and, on 28 December, northeast Kenya.

There is a risk that some swarms could appear in northeast Uganda, southeast South Sudan and southwest Ethiopia. Ground and aerial control operations continue in Ethiopia and aerial operations started in Kenya on 6 January.

Insecurity and a lack of national capacity have so far not allowed control operations in Somalia. During January, swarms will mature and lay eggs in the Ogaden and north central Somalia that will hatch and cause numerous hopper bands to form. There is a low risk of breeding in Kenya.

A potentially threatening situation is developing along both sides of the Red Sea where ongoing breeding is causing locust numbers to increase on the coasts of Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Widespread laying and hatching occurred in Saudi Arabia and gave rise to numerous hopper groups and bands, and a few immature swarms moved into the interior in late December. Hopper bands and swarms are also forming on the Red Sea coast in Yemen. More swarms are likely to form in both countries later this month.

A severe Desert Locust outbreak threatens rural food security across East Africa.
A severe Desert Locust outbreak threatens rural food security across East Africa.

In Sudan, hopper bands are forming on the northern coast near Egypt and new swarms could form later in January. Breeding in adjacent areas of southeast Egypt is likely to cause groups to form.

A second generation of breeding is in progress and will continue on the central and northern coast of Eritrea where hoppers are forming groups, which could lead to hopper bands. Control operations are in progress in all affected countries.


East Africa is facing the most serious Desert Locust outbreak in 25 years
In this photo taken Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, a Samburu boy uses a wooden stick to try to swat a swarm of desert locusts filling the air, as he herds his camel near the village of Sissia, in Samburu county, Kenya. The most serious outbreak of desert locusts in 25 years is spreading across East Africa and posing an unprecedented threat to food security in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries, authorities say, with unusual climate conditions partly to blame. (AP Photo/Patrick Ngugi)

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS

The most serious outbreak of locusts in 25 years is spreading across East Africa and posing an unprecedented threat to food security in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries, authorities say. Unusual climate conditions are partly to blame.

The locust swarms hang like shimmering dark clouds on the horizon in some places. Roughly the length of a finger, the insects fly together by the millions and are devouring crops and forcing people in some areas to bodily wade through them. Near the Kenyan town of Isiolo on Thursday, one young camel herder swung a stick at them, with little effect. Others tried to shout them away.

An “extremely dangerous increase” in locust swarm activity has been reported in Kenya, the East African regional body reported this week. One swarm measured 60 kilometers (37 miles) long by 40 kilometers (25 miles) wide in the country’s northeast, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development said in a statement.

“A typical desert locust swarm can contain up to 150 million locusts per square kilometer,” it said. “Swarms migrate with the wind and can cover 100 to 150 kilometers in a day. An average swarm can destroy as much food crops in a day as is sufficient to feed 2,500 people.”

The outbreak of desert locusts, considered the most dangerous locust species, also has affected parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea and IGAD warns that parts of South Sudan and Uganda could be next.

>> ALSO READ : Eritrea: Locust Swarm Put Under Control

The outbreak is making the region’s bad food security situation worse, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has warned. Hundreds of thousands of acres of crops have been destroyed.

Already millions of people cope with the constant risk of drought or flooding, as well as deadly unrest in Ethiopia, extremist attacks in Somalia and lingering fighting in South Sudan as it emerges from civil war.

The further increase in locust swarms could last until June as favorable breeding conditions continue, IGAD said, helped along by unusually heavy flooding in parts of the region in recent weeks.

Major locust outbreaks can be devastating. A major one between 2003 and 2005 cost more than $500 million to control across 20 countries in northern Africa, the FAO has said, with more than $2.5 billion in harvest losses.

To help prevent and control outbreaks, authorities analyze satellite images, stockpile pesticides and conduct aerial spraying. In Ethiopia, officials said they have deployed four small planes to help fight the invasion.

But one approach backfired in Kenya in recent days when the agriculture minister asked people to post photos on social media of suspected locusts, or “nzige” in Swahili.

A mocking series of images of warthogs, cats, lizards and other beasts followed, with pleas for help in identifying them, and the appeal was ended.

Desert Locust Situation in Eritrea

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