AU says it working “seriously” with FAO to mitigate desert locust ravaging Horn of Africa

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The African Union (AU) has said it has been working with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to mitigate the effect of desert locust that has significantly affected the East African sub-region, particularly countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

The worst desert locust outbreak in 25 years has caused significant pasture losses across East Africa, mainly in agro-pastoral areas of eastern Ethiopia, central Somalia and northern Kenya, the FAO said in its desert locust situation update issued on Thursday.

The FAO noted that swarms may still reach Uganda and South Sudan, as locust infestations continued to grow along both sides of the Red Sea where numerous hopper groups, bands and adult groups formed.

Last week, the FAO had warned that the worst desert locust outbreak in decades has threatened the food security of Ethiopia and its neighboring East African countries.

Speaking to the press on Friday in the framework of the 33rd AU summit in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Sacko Josefa, said the 55-member pan-African bloc is working with FAO to address the problem and also contain its spread to other countries in the region and beyond.

“We have our own a regional center for phytosanitary counsel; we are working directly with FAO; we call for a meeting with all the ministers in this region because of this desert locust,” she said.

“We really want to make sure that there is no spread in another country like Tanzania, even the other region apart from the East African region, like Uganda; we are really addressing this issue very seriously and on timely because when we had a Fall Army worm, we do not address it immediately,” the Commissioner added.

The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), 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 kilometers, according to the UN. Enditem

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