Desert Locust Swarms No More Threats: Ministry of Agriculture

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Addis Ababa, November 2/2020( ENA) The desert locust swarms which invaded parts of Ethiopia are no more threats to crops as their spread has diminished due to aerial and ground control operations, according to Ministry of Agriculture.

Agriculture State Minister, Mandefro Negusse told ENA that the locusts that infested five regions and one city administration are now confined to one region.

“We only have desert locusts in Somali Region, despite some dispersed locusts that escaped from the control operations,” he added.

The country has increased the number of its aircraft and vehicles to intensify the control operations against the locusts across the country.

“We have now seven aircraft sprayers, three navigation helicopters, and 116 vehicles that boosted our capacity to  fight any current and possible future locust invasion,” Mandefro underscored.

The locust will no more be a threat to agricultural crops in Ethiopia because it will now go to naturally favorable areas to breed.

“It will not create a problem on crops in Ethiopia for now,” the state minister noted, adding that “The dispersed locusts in Tigray region will go to the coast of the Red Sea for breeding; and the other swarms of locusts dispersed in Afar and central parts of the country will go to the coasts of Somalia.”

However, the state minister pointed out that it will return back in Belg season. “We are, therefore, establishing control operation bases in many parts of the country.”  

Ministry of Agriculture is mainly collaborating with FAO, Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa (DLCO-EA) and the World Bank, it was learned.

But Mandefro said DLCO-EA has resources limitations and is supporting the ministry with only one outdated aircraft.

“So we want to discuss about how to strengthen its resources; otherwise it’s better to deal with it alone,” he added.

DLCO-EA Director-General, Stephen W. Njoka admitted the resources limitations of the organization that has been distributing what it has got in the region.

 “Our partner FAO has come to help us with Ministry of Agriculture and we have been able to deploy a number of aircraft throughout the region. … So we are making progress but the threat is real,” he added.

According to him, DLCO-EA is really a regional and strategic organization that has 9 members, all paying except Uganda.

“Countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Tanzania have been good in payment; and that is how we sustained,” Njoka added.

Member countries contribute from 122,000 to 400,000 USD.