Unusual rains increase desert locust risk

Heavy rains have fallen in the winter breeding areas of Northwest Africa and around the Red Sea that could allow desert locusts to increase and eventually threaten the fields of forthcoming spring crops in these areas, says FAO.

According to the Desert Locust Update issued by the FAO Migratory Pests Group, low pressure over northeastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula in mid-November brought unusually heavy rains to the northern coastal plains along both sides of the Red Sea which lasted for more than a week. Flooding was reported in many areas. Strong southerly winds associated with this weather are thought to have carried locusts northwards from the interior of Yemen to the traditional winter breeding areas along the Red Sea coasts of Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. There is a risk that locust infestations could buildup during the next few months in these places.

In West Africa, young wingless locusts continued to form hopper bands in northwestern Mauritania and northern Mali. These will produce new swarms during the remainder of the month. It is feared that some of these swarms could move north into Morocco and Algeria where authorities are closely monitoring the situation and preparing themselves for any control operations to protect fertile areas such as the Souss Valley which produce key cash crops.

28 November 1996

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