Locust outbreak a growing threat to Kenya

By AT editor - 13 March 2020 at 11:24 pm
Locust outbreak a growing threat to Kenya

New swarms of locusts are coming from Ethiopia and Somalia into Kenya, as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and its partners continue to fight back against crop destruction in a part of the world where it is least afforded.

The FAO said Friday it was working with the Kenyan government to train 300 people in tracking and identifying hotspots in the desert locust outbreak, with another 300 planned for the future. The information is then used to develop plans to control locusts in Kenya, where they have infested 70,000 hectares of land in 17 counties.

“The desert locust upsurge is a direct attack to FAO’s mandate to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition,” said Tobias Takavarasha, the FAO representative in Kenya, in a statement issued Friday.

“Our current concern is that the first-generation swarms that came in from Ethiopia and Somalia are breeding, and by the time the eggs hatch, it will be planting season with early germination of crops. The hopper bands are the most voracious feeders in the lifecycle of desert locusts, and that is why we are increasing ground control.”

Every new generation will increase 20 times in number, the experts warn.

This year’s outbreak is made worse by climate change, as Kenya experienced heavy rains and flooding that promote breeding. In the last three years, the increase in the number of Indian Ocean cyclones contributed to the locust woes with additional rains on the Arabian Peninsula where locusts can breed and reproduce freely.

Image: FAO/ Sven Torfinn

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