Desert locust affects over 65,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia amid call for swift regional efforts


The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture on Friday disclosed that the ongoing desert locust invasion has affected over 65,000 hectares of land across different parts of Ethiopia during the past few months.

Among the 65,000 hectares of land that was affected by the desert locust swarms, some 58,628 hectares of the land has been freed from the dangerous pest, Zebdios Selato, plant healthcare director at the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, told local media outlets.

The ministry, which called for concerted regional efforts to avert desert locust-induced food security threat in Ethiopia and beyond across the Horn of Africa region, also stressed that the desert locust invasion in Ethiopia is mainly attributed to recent heavy rains that facilitated the swarms to re-migrate from Kenya, as well as recent similar desert locust migration from Somalia and Yemen.

“We have fortunately identified the corridors through which the swarms are entering Ethiopia. So, we have added two more aircrafts to fight the locust. In total, we have assigned four aircrafts to prevent them from crossing across the corridors,” state-run news agency ENA quoted Selato as saying.

Noting ongoing measures to control desert locust swarms which will continue migrating to Ethiopia in five directions, Selato also said that “a huge number of swarms is expected to migrate to Ethiopia through five different directions until the end of next month.”

The director said cooperation among east African countries “is very crucial in fighting the swarms,” as he announced that Ethiopia and Kenya have signed a cross-border agreement to work closely in monitoring and controlling the desert locust.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) had released 10 million U.S. dollars to help scale up the response to the devastating desert locust outbreak in East Africa.

According to the UN, the desert locust is among “the most dangerous migratory pests in the world. A single locust can travel 150-km and eat its own weight in food (estimated about two grams) each day,” in which a small swarm can consume the equivalent of food for 35,000 people in one day.

The UNOCHA had also earlier this week warned that as the desert locust swarms currently “reproduce rapidly” across the region, their current numbers could grow 500 times by June if left unchecked.

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-km, according to the UN. Enditem


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