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Expect locusts back in June

By Saada Hassan | May 13th 2020 at 13:19:44 GMT +0300

Residents of Tenges Ward in Baringo Central try to chase out a swarm of locusts yesterday. [Joseph Kipsang, Standard]

The second wave of locusts is expected to come back in June according to a report released by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,(FAO).

According to the Director-General of FAO, QU Dongyu, treated lands are now relatively free from the voracious pest but the first wave of swarms has reproduced and a second wave of locusts will transition from juveniles to the young adult stage in June, taking flight at a critical time when many farmers in East Africa prepare to harvest their crops.

According to the impact assessment in the report the impact of desert locust on farmers, agro pastoralists and pastoralists will accelerate at the end of the rainy season in June while farmers who lose their crops between April and June will have no food stocks from late June until December 2020.

Desert locusts damaged crops in Kenya from January but the continuing rains have slightly offset the impact.
By December, the desert locust had marginally damaged crops which allowed a good harvest although off-season crops were severely impacted from late December to February.

According to FAO the current ongoing rains in the country are disrupting the control measures put in place with some roads now being rendered inaccessible.

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The organization will now lodge a new appeal for funding next week, warning the plague could still cause a food crisis.

According to Bloomberg news the Nairobi based agency led by the team leader Cyrill Ferand, FAO intends to ask its partners for about 110 million doll which is roughly Sh11.7 billion on May 20 as it prepares to fight swarms seen moving to the Sahel and Pakistan.

"We may need over two years to tame this enemy,” Ferrand said. “We’re in the middle of the fight.”
As per the report, the locusts, which move in swarms each covering about a square kilometer, could increase 20 times during the current rainy season.

Drier weather after the rainy season may push swarms west and north into the Sahel region. “It’s a game now of figuring where the weather will take the swarms,” said Ferrand.

By January this year, the desert locust had formed huge swarms covering large areas of about 2 400 square kilometres. A typical swarm can be made up of 150 million locusts per square kilometer; even a very small, 1 km2 locust swarm can eat the same amount of food in one day as about 35 000 people.

According to the recently-released Global Report on Food Crises indicate that over 25 million people will experience acute food insecurity in mid to late 2020 in Eastern Africa which will likely affect food security in the region as this highly migratory destructive insects continues to remain at large.

Kenya Red cross in partnership with FAO-Kenya have now launched an assessment plan.They will use drones, satellite images & interviews to assess the environment and livelihood impact. The findings will help structure the recovery plan.

locusts FAO June East Africa
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