Addis Ababa August 9/ 2019 Ministry of Agriculture announced that it is taking urgent prevention and controlling measures on the proliferation of desert locust in Ethiopia.
FAO recently alarmed on desert locust outbreak in East African countries and Saudi Arabia induced by heavy rains.
The desert locust is the world’s most dangerous migratory pest capable of flying up to 150 km a day with the wind.
The latest assessment and monitoring from the ministry indicated that swarm of locust reported in parts of Somali, Afar, Amhara, Tigrai and East Oromia regions as well as Dire Dawa City in Ethiopia.
In an exclusive interview with ENA Plant Health Director-General Weldehawariyat Assefa said the ministry is monitoring and conducting periodical assessments to review if there is any risk for the surge of desert locust, causing an outbreak build up all over the country.
He tipped that the assessment shows that migratory adult locust population from the Arabian Peninsula has entered to parts of Ethiopia; however, he said it will not pause a serious threat for the harvest season.
Though swarms of locust has not yet caused any damage to the crop, it has high possibility of breeding under this harvest season, so strict monitoring and early control is needed to prevent further swarms forming and spread to the rest of the country, the Director-General stressed.
“Based on our recent assessment we have confirmed that the swarms didn’t cause any damage on yield crops, because naturally adult locusts cannot cause damages, but it has high probability of breeding and expansion throughout the country as the rain situation in this harvest season could create the best opportunity for it”, Weldehariyat said.
He added that the Ministry has been monitoring the situation critically by dispatching a group of experts to the affected areas.
Zebdios Selato, who is one of the expertise travelled to the locus affected areas, said “in our field assessment we have found adult locusts which migrated from Yemen”.
However, he said, transformation of the locust to the swarming form has already controlled with the concerted efforts of the ministry with farmers and other stakeholders.
According to him, Ethiopian experts are aware of the possible risk of desert locust migration from Somaliland. So, the country needs to reinforce vigilance and control measures in order to contain the vicious infestations.
“Regarding locust migration from Somaliland we are communicating with Ministry of Foreign Affairs to find out the way to create controlling mechanisms to fight the situation in Somaliland before passing the border of Ethiopia, so, if it is possible we are ready to support Somaliland in the fighting process,” he said.
According to the Ministry about 19 million birr has been allocated for the prevention and management of desert locust and other main pests.
The Ministry has also reached an agreement with the East African Desert Locust Prevention Organization to conduct aerial pesticides spray over the border lines of Ethiopia and Somaliland, Zebdios pointed out.
He stressed that strong communication and integration is required at all levels particularly with The Desert Locust Information Service (DLIS) as the situation needs update information as part of the preventive control strategy.
Desert Locusts are short-horned grasshoppers that can form large swarms and cause a serious risk to agricultural production, livelihoods, food security and the environment and economic development.