Desert locusts pose threat to food production
The desert locusts infestation in Somalia has reached a dangerous stage, according to FAO2, with bands of hoppers reported in breeding grounds in Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug; and laying eggs that will soon hatch into the fourth generation. Experts estimate that it will be 20 times worse than the plague that descended few months ago and includes more young adults which are especially voracious eaters. Ongoing rains further exacerbate the situation, to which the availability of vegetation to sustain the development of another generation of desert locust.
Unlike the December 2019 swarms, which coincided with the tail end of the Deyr rainy season and caused limited damage, the current swarms have built up at the onset of the Gu’ planting season and are likely to devour newly planted crops in large swaths of the country. FAO is working with the Federal Government of Somalia, member states and NGO partners to contain the swarms, however, the 2020 Gu’ seasonal production is likely to record a significant loss.
Locust control measures scaled up FAO has significantly bolstered its support to the Federal Government and state authorities to scale up local capacities, surveillance, and control operations to combat the desert locust upsurge. Close to 40,000 hectares of land out of the 360,000 hectares estimated to be affected across the country, has been sprayed. In addition, 24,300 farming families in 152 villages in northern and southern areas of Somalia are receiving livelihood inputs and services including replanting packages. The capacity for ground control has been strengthened with the purchase of 30 vehicles, along with 54 back mounted motorized sprayers and 22 vehicle-mounted sprayers. Two helicopters were delivered on 17 May with a capacity to spray 1,000 hectares daily of the operation utilizes bio-pesticides, principally metarhizium, so as to avoid the negative environmental impact of chemical pesticides. FAO has already delivered 4 000 kg with a coverage of 80 000 ha. Procurement and delivery for additional bio pesticide to cover the targeted 180 000 hectares is ongoing. The FAO and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Joint Desert Locust Crisis –Somalia Action Plan seeks $56.9 million to implement, of which 45 per cent ($25.5 million) has been funded.