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Running out of time: East Africa faces new locust threat

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  • Running out of time: East Africa faces new locust threat

    Running out of time: East Africa faces new locust threat
    by Reuters
    Thursday, 27 February 2020 13:00 GMT

    The locusts are swiftly breeding and their numbers could increase 400-fold by June if the infestation is left unchecked, the UN has warned

    By Omar Mohammed and Dawit Endeshaw

    NAIROBI/ADDIS ABABA, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Countries in East Africa are racing against time to prevent new swarms of locusts wreaking havoc with crops and livelihoods after the worst infestation in generations.

    A lack of expertise in controlling the pests is not their only problem: Kenya temporarily ran out of pesticides, Ethiopia needs more planes and Somalia and Yemen, torn by civil war, can't guarantee exterminators' safety.

    Locust swarms have been recorded in the region since biblical times, but unusual weather patterns exacerbated by climate change have created ideal conditions for insect numbers to surge, scientists say.

    Warmer seas are creating more rain, wakening dormant eggs, and cyclones that disperse the swarms are getting stronger and more frequent.

    In Ethiopia the locusts have reached the fertile Rift Valley farmland and stripped grazing grounds in Kenya and Somalia. Swarms can travel up to 150 km (93 miles) a day and contain between 40-80 million locusts per square kilometre.

    If left unchecked, the number of locusts in East Africa could explode 400-fold by June. That would devastate harvests in a region with more than 19 million hungry people, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned.

    Uganda has deployed the military. Kenya has trained hundreds of youth cadets to spray. Lacking pesticides, some security forces in Somalia have shot anti-aircraft guns at swarms darkening the skies.

    Everyone is racing the rains expected in March: the next generation of larvae is already wriggling from the ground, just as farmers plant their seeds...

    Read more: https://news.trust.org/item/20200227122340-3t5r8

  • #2

    https://time.com/5791466/ducks-locust-plague/
    A troop of special Chinese ducks is waiting to be deployed to neighboring Pakistan to fight a swarm of crop-eating pests that threaten regional food security.

    At least 100,000 ducks are expected to be sent to Pakistan as early as the second half of this year to combat a desert locust outbreak, according to Lu Lizhi, a senior researcher with the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The ducks are “biological weapons” and can be more effective than pesticide, said Lu, who is in charge of the project in tandem with a university in Pakistan.

    “One duck is able to eat more than 200 locusts a day,” Lu said in a telephone interview on Thursday, citing results of experiments to test the ducks’ searching and predation capabilities.

    ...

    Swarms of desert locusts have been spreading through countries from eastern Africa to South Asia, destroying crops and pastures at a voracious pace. The pest plague, together with unseasonal rain and a scourge of low quality seeds, has hit major crops in Pakistan’s largest producing regions, weighing on its already fragile economy. And it has also migrated into India.
    ...snip
    ?The only security we have is our ability to adapt."

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    • #3
      Source: https://apnews.com/517bb5588fc94403f797a2045095dcac

      New, larger wave of locusts threatens millions in Africa
      By RODNEY MUHUMUZAtoday

      KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Weeks before the coronavirus spread through much of the world, parts of Africa were already threatened by another kind of plague, the biggest locust outbreak some countries had seen in 70 years.

      Now the second wave of the voracious insects, some 20 times the size of the first, is arriving. Billions of the young desert locusts are winging in from breeding grounds in Somalia in search of fresh vegetation springing up with seasonal rains.

      Millions of already vulnerable people are at risk. And as they gather to try to combat the locusts, often in vain, they risk spreading the virus — a topic that comes a distant second for many in rural areas.

      It is the locusts that “everyone is talking about,” said Yoweri Aboket, a farmer in Uganda. “Once they land in your garden they do total destruction. Some people will even tell you that the locusts are more destructive than the coronavirus. There are even some who don’t believe that the virus will reach here.”...

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