Locusts Prompt Emergency Declarations in Somalia, Pakistan

  • The Somali Ministry of Agriculture has declared a state of emergency in the last days of last week.
  • Kenya and Ethiopia, like Somalia, are witnessing an unprecedented surge in locusts.
  • Pakistan is seeing a return of locusts and the situation is also critical.

The situation in Somalia is very worrying. This is the assessment of Dominic Begone, a United Nations expert on food and agricultural economics. The political crisis in Somalia has worsened the situation. Much of the agricultural land in Somalia has been destroyed by locusts.

Locusts are a collection of certain species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae that have a swarming phase. These insects are usually solitary, but under certain circumstances they become more abundant and change their behaviour and habits, becoming gregarious.

Somalia is going through very difficult days. Months of drought and subsequent floods had destroyed many of the country’s rangelands and farmland. Crops saved from drought and flood bites have now become prey to locusts. The influx of 2 to 5 million locusts simultaneously into farms has virtually destroyed crops in the country. In this regard, the Somali Ministry of Agriculture has declared a state of emergency in the last days of last week.

The Threat of Hunger in East Africa

Kenya and Ethiopia, like Somalia, are witnessing an unprecedented surge in locusts. “In this region, about 3 million people in three countries, Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, are now suffering from hunger and malnutrition,” Borgone said about the situation in these countries. “So we must do everything we can to prevent the situation from getting worse.”

The only way to deal with the influx of locusts is to spray through the air. The efforts of officials in Kenya so far have not yielded the desired results. The pesticide used to destroy locusts has not worked effectively. In addition, the shortage of agricultural aircrews to deal with locusts has added to the problems of these countries.

A Rapid Increase in the Number of Locusts

Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture has announced that thousands of locusts are sitting on the ground and mating while the airplanes are spraying. Strong and unusual rainfall this season of the year has also provided grounds for mating and breeding locusts. It is said that warm and humid soil provides good conditions for the reproduction of these insects.

The situation in Somalia is much worse than in the other two countries. It has very limited facilities to counter the invasion of locusts. Somalia is said to lack agricultural airplanes for spraying. The United Nations has expressed concern that as a result of the increase in locusts, the situation could be up to three times worse by June. The UN has spoken about the agricultural disaster in Somalia.

A biological pesticide to control locusts was tested across Africa by a multinational team in 1997. This approach to locust control was used in Tanzania in 2009 to treat around 10,000 hectares in the Iku-Katavi National Park infested with adult locusts.

Re-invasion of Locusts in Pakistan

The invasion of locusts has raised serious concern among government officials and stakeholders in Pakistan’s agricultural and food industry. As a result of the locusts’ attack, large parts of the country’s cultivated areas have been destroyed.

Pakistani Intelligence Minister Ferdowsi Aswan Avan has spoken of the worst grasshopper invasion in the past twenty years. He announced that a national emergency was declared in Pakistan in connection with the locusts’ invasion of farms. The problem of food supply and food shortages threatens Pakistan with a population of 197 million.

This is the second invasion of locusts in Pakistan in the past few months. A few months ago, locusts invaded farms in southwestern Pakistan from Iranian soil and damaged cotton, wheat and maize fields. Grasshoppers then attacked other parts of Pakistan.

Countering the Attack of Grasshoppers

Pakistan’s Food and Nutrition Minister Khosrow Bakhtiar has said that locusts are more likely to be found in the border areas between India and Pakistan. He described the new wave of locusts in Pakistan as “worrying and unprecedented.”

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George Mtimba

George clarifies how the news is changing the world, how world news trends affect you. Also, George is a professional journalist, a freelance news reporter and writer who is passionate with current world news.

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