Locust numbers exploding: Swarms gather as heavy rains, closed borders and the coronavirus curbs delay pesticides: Millions of poor people poised for the second wave

Monday, 6 April 2020

Desert Locust situation update.

Widespread rains to cause further deterioration in the situation. Widespread rains that fell in late March could allow a dramatic increase in locust numbers in East Africa, eastern Yemen and southern Iran during the coming months. The current situation in East Africa remains extremely alarming as hopper bands and an increasing number of new swarms are forming in Kenya, southern Ethiopia and Somalia. This represents an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods because it coincides with the beginning of the long rains and the planting season.

Although ground and aerial control operations are in progress, widespread rains that fell in late March will allow the new swarms to mostly remain, mature and lay eggs while a few swarms could move from Kenya to Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia. During May, the eggs will hatch into hopper bands that will form new swarms in late June and July, which coincides with the start of the harvest.

Several swarms appeared in the past few days in Amudat district of northeast Uganda. The situation in Iran and Yemen is becoming increasingly worrisome. Swarms laid eggs along 900 km of coast in southwest Iran that are hatching and hopper bands are forming. The widespread heavy rains that fell in late March will allow another generation of breeding and a further increase in locusts during May, which will extend to Baluchistan, Pakistan.

Several swarms were reported in the past few days, including today, along both sides of the Oman/Yemen border in the interior and on the coast. The March rains will allow swarm breeding in eastern Yemen that will cause hopper bands to form and a further increase in locust numbers. fao

East Africa locust swarms gather as coronavirus curbs delay pesticides.

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Coronavirus-linked flight restrictions are hampering efforts to wipe out locust swarms on the verge of devastating crops in eastern Africa, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said. The curbs have delayed deliveries of pesticides and, at the current rate of spraying, stocks in Kenya will run out within four days, Cyril Ferrand, FAO’s head of resilience for Eastern Africa, told Reuters on Thursday. “If we fail in the current (regional) control operations, because of lack of pesticides, then we could see 4 million more people struggle to feed their families,” Ferrand said.

Locust numbers exploded late last year, encouraged by unusual weather patterns amplified by climate change, and swarms disbursed eastwards from Yemen, with Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia the hardest-hit countries. The first invasion that terrorized farmers in a region where 20 million people struggle for food has given birth to a second wave of insects just as new-season crops are being planted. “They are very active, very voracious, and very mobile,” Ferrand said. “

If we don’t have pesticides, our planes cannot fly and people cannot spray and if we are not able to control these swarms, we will have big damage to crops.” In Kenya, the FAO was now looking to secure pesticides from local sources, Ferrand said, should the delays continue. The spreading of the new coronavirus has forced governments to close their borders, reducing cargo flights and disrupting global supply chains, including the production of pesticides in Europe and Asia. Reuters

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