Swarms of desert locusts have been blanketing East Africa for months — ravaging crops and potentially threatening the livelihoods of 10 percent of the world’s population, experts are warning.
An unprecedented amount of locusts, the oldest migratory pests in the world, have been chomping through fields in the Horn of Africa since at least January, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.
“In Kenya, it’s the worst outbreak they’ve had to face in the last 70 years,” Keith Cressman, FAO’s senior locust forecasting officer, told NPR. “In India or Pakistan, it’s probably the worst they’ve had to face in the last quarter of a century.”
And the problem is only going to get worse — swarms of second-generation of spring-bred locusts are popping up in Kenya, the FAO said. The new spawn is expected to migrate north to summer breeding areas in Sudan and Ethiopia, where they’ll quickly mature and lay eggs.
“Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Pakistan, and India should remain on high alert during the next four weeks,” FAO said in a June 20 advisory. “West Africa should continue to take anticipatory measures and preparatory steps.”
The desert locust is the most devastating of all locust species and can potentially damage the livelihood of one tenth of the world’s population, as well as affect 20 percent of land globally and more than 65 of the world’s poorest countries, FAO said.
The hardy insects rapidly reproduce and populations can increase by 20 times in three months. They’re ravenous, too — with adults capable of eating their own weight every day.
The FAO is warning that infestations that are not controlled or detected could lead to “devastating plagues … that often take several years and hundreds of millions of dollars to bring under control with severe consequences on food security and livelihoods.”
Countries in eastern Africa have been on high alert for the devastating swarms for months — though efforts to control them have been hampered by the coronavirus.
Credit: Source link