More desert locust swarms to hit Ethiopia, Kenya: FAO

red locust invasion

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that more desert locust swarms will arrive this month and spread throughout southern Ethiopia and parts of Kenya.

“More swarms will arrive during January and spread throughout southern Ethiopia and northern, central, and eastern counties of Kenya where they will mature and lay eggs that will hatch and give rise to hopper bands from late January onwards,” the FAO said in a statement issued on Monday.

According to the FAO, numerous immature swarms formed in eastern Ethiopia and central Somalia, which moved to southern Ethiopia, reaching northern Kenya on December 21, 2020, Xinhua news agency reported.

Swarms bred and caused hopper bands to form in areas affected by cyclone Gati, which hit northern Somalia recently.

The FAO also stressed that adult groups and a few swarms appeared on the coast of Sudan and Eritrea where breeding, albeit on a smaller scale than Saudi Arabia, will cause hopper bands to form.

Intensive control operations treated more than 336,000 hectares of land during December, and efforts should be maintained.

Since June 2019, Ethiopia has been suffering from the worst desert locust invasion in about 25 years, affecting major crop-producing parts of the country.

The desert locust, which is considered as the “most dangerous of the nearly one dozen species of locusts”, is a major food security peril in desert areas across 20 countries, stretching from west Africa all the way to India, covering nearly 16 million square km, according to the UN.

Each square kilometre of a swarm can have from 40 million-80 million locusts.

An adult desert locust consumes food equaling roughly to its weight — about two grams every day, which means that even a small swarm of insects will eat food consumed by six elephants, 20 camels, or 35,000 people every day, the FAO said.

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