UN warns of desert locust outbreak


UN has warned against an outbreak of desert locust in Kenya and other African countries.

According to a report released yesterday by the United Nations- Food and Agriculture Organization, swarms could migrate from Yemen in the autumn to get to Kenya and the Horn of Africa by the end of the year, in the worst case scenario.

This could happen unless urgent preventive and control measures are established in the region,” the report said.

In August last year, the government announced invasion of tree and desert locusts in Samburu, Isiolo, Turkana and Marsabit Counties.

While appearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said the government had deployed a light plane to spray pesticides in the affected areas, and that a technical team from his ministry was monitoring the situation to contain the spread.

Desert locust swarms had last invaded Kenya in 2007 and aerial control operations were required to bring the situation under control.

The locusts multiply and spread due to weather conditions and FAO said, this could have adverse impacts on the agricultural seasonal yields and local economies affecting food security and livelihoods of the populations in the countries concerned.

After becoming airborne, swarms of tens of millions of locusts can fly up to 150 km a day with the wind. Desert locusts live about three months, and a female locust lays about 300 eggs. A very small swarm eats the same amount of food in one day as about 35 000 people,” the report reads.

The UN food agent said urgent urgent action is needed to prevent the spread and save crops.

Urgent desert locust control operations are required to safeguard crops and mitigate the risk of infestation,” FAO said.

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