Rampaging pests worsen DRC cereal output

Locust feeding on crop

Locust feeding on crop

from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) THE prevalence of pests is the latest crisis projected to massively impact on agricultural output in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Among the areas most affected by setbacks is the eastern province of Mainema, which has experienced crop losses due to the presence of the mealybug or whitefly.

The pest, which feeds on the underside of plant leaves, is rife in the Kailo, Kibombo and Pangi territories where they have ravaged more than 3 500 hectares of cereals.

More than 4 800 households are affected in the territories mentioned.

According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, this exacerbated the situation of food insecurity in this region, which already has nearly 54 000 displaced people.

The escalation of the Ebola epidemic and rising conflict are also impacting on agriculture.

Elsewhere, uncertainty in the Masisi and Rutshuru territories in North Kivu and Djugu territory in Ituri as well as the Uvira territory in South Kivu in the last three months continue to disrupt agricultural activity, limiting people’s access to their livelihoods.

The North and South Kivu areas also experience conflict perpetrated by armed groups.

The persistence of the Ebola epidemic in Beni and Lubero areas is having a similar impact on livelihoods.

More than 1 600 people have died from what is now the country’s worst outbreak of the fever, and the second-biggest eruption of the killer disease globally.

According to experts, the situation could compromise agro-pastoral activities in the eastern part of the DRC in the medium term.

“The low food availability associated with recurrent epidemics has had a significant impact on the nutritional situation in the DRC,” FEWS NET stated.

According to the National Nutrition Programme (PRONANUT), 57 health zones (or 11 percent of the country) have been on nutritional alert in the first quarter of 2019.

Most of the affected zones are in the Kasai, Kwango and Kwilu regions.

“Analysis of the three previous quarters shows sharp fluctuations and a nutritional situation that is far from under control, despite the response from health services,” PRONANUT stated.

The month of June marked the harvest period throughout the eastern region of the DRC.

– CAJ News

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