Desert locust population to multiply 20 fold, FAO warns

desert locustThe desert locust is the world’s most dangerous migratory pest capable of flying up to 150 km a day with the wind.

The desert locust invasion in the country is on an upsurge trend even as the country’s focus remain largely on coronavirus pandemic, Food and Agricultural Organization has said.

In an advisory on Thursday, FAO said the rate of insects multiplications “continues to remain alarming, particularly in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, where it poses an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods.”

In particular, FAO said, the widespread rainfall last month is expected to produce a cataclysmic increase in locust numbers over the coming months, with new swarms expected to move from upwards and Eastwards into South Sudan and Uganda.

Also read: FAO raises red flag on desert locust outbreak

Moreover, FAO estimates the number of locusts could increase another 20 times during the upcoming rainy season unless control activities are stepped up.

The current situation represents an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods that could lead to further suffering, displacement and potential tensions, it said.

The situation is also worrying in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Yemen where a new generation of locusts is emerging, it said.

With movement restrictions due to the covid19 situation, it said, its personnel and equipment have been grounded.

It is however working national governments, farmers and agricultural producers to contain the outbreak, it added.

“While lockdown is becoming a reality, people engaged in the fight against the upsurge are still allowed to conduct surveillance, and air and ground control operations,” Cyril Ferrand, its Resilience Team Leader for East Africa said.

The organization said that upto 20 million people-already experiencing acute food insecurity in the Horn of Africa region-will be gravely hit unless something drastic was done to mitigate the locust multiplication.

Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania make up the countries of the region affected by the invasion that started last year.

FAO recently scaled up its Desert Locust appeal to $153.2 million and so far $111.1 million has been pledged or received.

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Moses Okitae
Moses Okitae Writes about Science stories, food security and human interest stories.

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