Efforts to control locust swarms in East Africa slowed down due to the coronavirus

locust invasion
Photo: National Geographic

Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of billions of locusts invaded several regions of East Africa and South Asia, making it the worst infestation for a quarter of a century. Crops and livelihoods are still being strongly threatened by this invasion.

The UN appealed for $76m (£59m) to deal with this crisis, currently, however, the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down the efforts to control the invasion of locusts in corps.

As the number of cases of coronavirus is increasing in these regions, the delivery of pesticides that can kill the insects has been delayed.

“In Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia widespread breeding is in progress and new swarms are starting to form, representing an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods at the beginning of the upcoming cropping season,” the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said recently.

“Along with climate shocks, conflict, and acute food insecurity, the East Africa region now faces a hunger threat from Desert Locust. This is a scourge of biblical proportions,” added the organization.

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This situation is deemed quite alarming since the population of locusts could multiply by 400 times this year, as swarms are maturing and will start to lay eggs in early April.

That could further put the African countries in a big dilemma, decimate crops relies on agriculture for about one-third of its GDP which is 65% of employment.

On the side of Yemen, and Iran, new swarms also are forming. However, the locust situation is reported to be fairly under control in Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq, Pakistan, and India.

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