Photo taken on Feb. 4, 2020 shows a cloud of locusts flying in Mwingi North, Kenya. A number of East African countries are suffering serious locust infestation, with Kenya experiencing its worst in 70 years, which, if left unchecked, could grow 500 times in scale by June, a UN spokesman said Friday. Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said besides Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are undergoing their worst locust infestation in 25 years, and that Djibouti, Eritrea, Uganda and Tanzania are also experiencing swarm activity and locust breeding, while the risk of spread to South Sudan is high. (Xinhua/Fred Mutune)

The desert locusts’ infestation in Somalia has reached a dangerous stage, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned.

In a report issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), FAO said bands of hoppers are in breeding grounds in Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug, and laying eggs that will soon hatch into the fourth generation.

“Ongoing rains further exacerbate the situation, to which the availability of vegetation to sustain the development of another generation of desert locust,” said FAO in the latest OCHA’s humanitarian report which was released on Friday.

According to the UN, experts estimate that it will be 20 times worse than the plague that descended a few months ago and includes more young adults which are especially voracious eaters.

Unlike the December 2019 swarms, which coincided with the tail end of the Deyr rainy season and caused limited damage, the current swarms have built up at the onset of the Gu’ planting season and are likely to devour newly planted crops in large swaths of the country.

FAO said its working with Somalia, member states and NGO partners to contain the swarms, but noted that the 2020 Gu’ seasonal production is likely to record a significant loss.

The UN food agency said it has significantly bolstered its support to the government and state authorities to scale up local capacities, surveillance, and control operations to combat the desert locust upsurge.

“The capacity for ground control has been strengthened with the purchase of 30 vehicles, along with 54 back mounted motorized sprayers and 22 vehicle-mounted sprayers,” said FAO. Enditem

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