Swarms of desert locusts are declining in the East African region, mainly due to extensive control operations carried out by governments and supported by the FAO over the past 14 months, as well as bad rains.
The United Nations The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the control measures have reduced the risk of desert locusts and averted a food crisis in the region.
“The desert locust crisis is far from over. Now the countries have systems, teams and are still ready, “said Cyril Ferrand, Manager of the FAO’s Desert Locust Response in East Africa.
” But I would also like to point out what these operations are in terms of Prevention of human suffering. Locust control measures prevented four million tons of grain and 790 million liters of milk production from being lost, protected the food security of 34.2 million people, and prevented $ 1.54 billion in grain and milk losses. “
Compared to the mega swarms of 2020, the swarms now being treated by government teams are between a few acres and 30 acres and contain far fewer insects.
” Think because there was a swarm in northern Kenya last year that was around 2,000 square kilometers in size. Now daily missions in Kenya are limited to a maximum of one or two a day, compared to 20 at the height of the boom last year, “said Ferrand.
Keith Cressman , FAO Senior Desert Locust Forecaster, and Prof. Hamadi Boga, Senior Secretary for Agriculture in Kenya, said there are few immature swarms left in Samburu in northern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
“Swarms in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia remain immature and continue to shrink. Without rain, they will not mature and breed, “said Cressman.
” The current rainy season, which is expected to be drier than normal, should contribute to a further decline in locusts. “
For the first time in many months since the desert locusts invaded Kenya, there was less talk of the deadly upswing.
” The desert locusts were under control most of the time. We have two swarms in Samburu that are being followed based on our latest report. Their population has decreased significantly. Some were able to flee to northern Tanzania, ”said Prof. Boga, chief secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives.
The President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, has also joined the war against the desert insects by she led her agriculture to Minister Adolf Mkenda to implement control measures.
“In agriculture, we were informed about the control of locusts. You are there with our neighbors. When a farmer plants his crops, he must harvest. So we have to make sure that he reaps what he sows. And that he doesn’t have to run into locusts, “said President Samia.
But while the control measures have minimized the risks posed by the locusts, the crisis is far from over.
” Desert locusts are a biological time bomb when the conditions are right. They are professional survivors and know how to deal with weather conditions in a changing climate. It would be a fatal mistake to downsize the response now, “said Cressman.
” During this boom, we were surprised twice by atypical weather that produced unusually heavy off-season rainfall and sparked a reproductive explosion. “
He said surveillance missions should be ramped up to generate profits and see any improvements in locust activity when the weather has more tricks up its sleeve.
” The maximum number of ground teams must actively look for locust infestations. All control teams must remain ready to respond. If current trends continue, the facility may go into high alarm status after the summer. “