Swarms of locusts are invading East Africa and destroying crops

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[Reading level: B2 – Upper Intermediate]

Locusts have huge appetites. One of these insects can eat its own weight in food in a single day. And they’re devastating crops in East Africa, where millions of people are already considered food-insecure, with Somalia in a state of emergency and Kenya seeing the worst invasion in 70 years.

 

The region is struggling to contain the infestation. And herdsmen and farmers have been feeling it the worst. Somali herdsman Abdulah Hassan depends on his herd to feed his nine children. “The locusts have destroyed all of our grazing land and I am very worried that my livestock will starve and die because these locusts are everywhere and are taking over the whole area,” he said.

 

A swarm can eat enough food in one day to feed 34 million people. And within a year, the locusts destroyed 170,000 acres of land in Somalia and Ethiopia – where people rely on crops for food and income.

 

The swarms have been building since 2018, when two cyclones hit the Arabian Peninsula in the same year. The wet conditions gave locusts the perfect breeding ground, and the population increased more than 400-fold. And it got even worse after another cyclone came through the region at the end of 2019. Now, swarms have reached Uganda, Tanzania, and Sudan.

 

Communities are doing what they can to protect their food source. Many are burying locusts, setting fires, and making noise to scare them off. But these aren’t sustainable solutions. An expert with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that some of these practices are actually perpetuating the problem.

 

“It’s just moving the problem to their neighbors and then locusts are becoming scattered, so they’re not really a good target for control any longer,” said Keith Cressman, senior locust forecasting officer in UN’s FAO.

 

Keith said the only way to sufficiently control the swarms is with pesticides. But resources are scarce – the Associated Press reported Kenya only has five planes to combat swarms the size of 250 football fields. The UN is calling for $76 million in aid. So far, it’s only a quarter of the way there. And time is running out. Planting seasons starts around April, and the UN worries a new generation of locusts will emerge around the same time.

 

“This is the season we depend on and it looks like they will destroy everything. We will stay hungry throughout the year up to October when we will plant,” said Esther Kithula, a farmer.

 

If rains holds off and control operations scale up, the rising threat of these swarms could slow down. But it’s not likely. At the very least, officials are urging the world to step in and help.

 

“It’s time for the international community to understand that it is an issue that needs to be dealt with now. Otherwise, there will be a million more people that will require food assistance, and it will take us years to control the situation.” said Dominique Burgeon, director of Emergencies & Rehabilitation Division, FAO.

 

Source: Business Insider Today

Swarms of Locusts Are Invading East Africa And Destroying Crops

In the worst invasion in decades, locust swarms are destroying crops across East Africa. A swarm can eat enough food in one day to feed 34 million people.

Người đăng: Business Insider Today vào Thứ Năm, 20 tháng 2, 2020

 

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