The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture on Friday called for concerted measures to tackle potential food security impacts of the breeding of desert locusts in parts of the country.
The ministry said desert locusts have been spotted in regions such as Ethiopian Somali, Afar, Amhara, Tigray, and Oromia regional states.
“Though swarms of locust have not yet caused any damage to the crop, it has a high possibility of breeding under the current harvesting season, so strict monitoring and early control is needed to prevent further swarms forming and spread to the rest of the country,” state-run Ethiopian News Agency quoted agriculture ministry officials as saying on Friday.
Weldehawariyat Assefa, plant health director-general at the ministry, said “the ministry is undertaking measures to review if there is any risk for the surge of desert locust causing an outbreak to build up all over the country.”
Lastest assessments have found that migratory adult locust population has entered parts of Ethiopia, after migrating from the Arabian Peninsula, he said.
“Based on our recent assessment, we have confirmed that the swarm will not cause any damage on yield crops, mainly due to the fact that adult locusts cannot naturally cause damage,” Assefa said.
“However, it (desert locust) has a high probability of breeding and expansion throughout the country as rainy conditions during the current harvest season potentially creates the best opportunity for it to breed,” Assefa added.
The government is “monitoring the situation critically by dispatching a group of experts to the affected areas,” he said.
The ministry called for urgent needs “to reinforce vigilance and control measures in order to contain the vicious infestations.”
It also announced its readiness to support neighboring Somalia’s efforts in the fight against desert locust summer breeding.
The ministry’s urgent call to curb the looming food security threats came days after the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned against an outbreak of desert locust in parts of East Africa as well as in different parts of the Arabian Peninsula.
Desert locust is considered the world’s most dangerous migratory pest, capable of flying as far as 150 km within a day, according to the FAO. Enditem