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Monitoring Desert Locusts in Somalia

Nov 2019

Somali farmers are facing a new devastating threat to their crops – the Desert Locust. Swarms of Desert Locusts are currently swelling and migrating, posing a serious threat to crop production on both sides of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, in countries that are already highly food insecure and facing economic crises.

According to FAO’s latest report, key locust breeding areas in Yemen, Somalia and the Sudan face a significant risk now and in the coming months. Desert Locusts are highly mobile – migrating up to 150 km a day with the wind – and capable of stripping an area’s vegetation. Swarming locusts can cause large-scale agricultural and environmental damage. A single locust plague can lead to a loss of 170 000 tonnes of grain, enough to feed 1 million people for a year.

Since the beginning of July, swarms of Desert Locust, originating in Yemen, have been invading farmland and rangeland in northern Somalia. These swarms are causing significant losses to crops in Somaliland. Field surveys conducted by the Locust Unit based in Hargeisa, Somaliland confirmed that a new generation of locust breeding has commenced in remote areas in the hinterland. If unchecked, this new generation poses a real risk to crop production throughout Somalia and the wider region. The survey revealed numerous hopper bands at high densities in the identified breeding areas that needs to be controlled as quickly as possible to prevent a new wave of swarms from forming that control spread to northern Kenya by the end of this year.

Author: FAO/Somalia

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