Locust Swarms Continue Destroying Crops, Threatening Food Security in East Africa: DLCO-EA Expert

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Ena January 22/2020 The desert locust swarms spreading in parts of East Africa have continued ruining crops and threatening food security of the region, Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa (DLCO-EA) disclosed. 

DLCO-EA Senior Information and Forecasting Expert, Felege Elias, told ENA that the swarms from Yemen have been spreading to some East African countries due to lack of capacity of Yemen to put in place survey and control mechanisms.

According to him, “locust swarm entered Ethiopia attacking Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions to later cross over to Eritrea and the Red Sea coastal areas. Another plague of locusts entered the environs of Dire Dawa from Somalia and caused damage from June to September. The big problem in the east is the absence of prevention and control in Somalia, and the spread of locust still challenge us.”

The locust which swarmed spread out to Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya; and there is now high risk of swarm infestation in South Sudan, and a moderate risk in Uganda, the expert stated.

He forecasted that locust breeding and maturing may be aggravated with favorable seasonal rain and humidity in Belg. Locusts have been crossing over to South Sudan and Uganda; and locust hoppers are breeding in Somaliland and threaten Ethiopia after maturing in March.

“Locust is the most dangerous insect that ruins farmer’s crops and threatens food security. … A locust swarm covers 50-100 million square meters. It has a devastating history in Ethiopia and other African countries,” it was pointed out.

The desert locust swarm that has spread in Ethiopia could stay up until June in the country.

Felege further noted that despite efforts by FAO and USAID, cooperation among stakeholder organizations to prevent and control the desert locust is low.

Since July, 2019 the Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa stationed one agricultural aircraft in Kebri Dahar, Somali region, and another in Afar (recently relocated to Amaro and Konso areas) to help control the locust infestation.

But “it is difficult to wipe out such vast plague of locust in a short period,” the expert observed.

He stated that “Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture has rented three planes and rotate between Gode, Dire Dawa, Bale and Arba Minch.”

DLCO-EA has on its part allotted aircrafts to Kenya since early January, and the Government of Kenya has expressed success in controlling the swarm, it was learned.