from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) – THE massive destruction by desert locusts in Ethiopia is worsening food insecurity in a country where about 8 million people were already in need of food assistance.
Above-average rainfall since June is blamed for encouraging vegetation growth, which provides favourable ecological conditions for desert locust breeding.
The insects have developed into swarms that are consuming between 8 700 to 1,75 million metric tons of cropland, green vegetation and trees per day.
The Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) informed that desert locusts can be extremely devastating, as approximately 30 million hoppers can land in one square kilometre.
In Ethiopia, some 56 districts are affected.
Over 35 000 hectares of sorghum have been destroyed in the Amhara region where some farms have lost nearly their entire teff crop. Teff is a staple food in Ethiopia.
More than 21 450 hectares of cropland and pastures have been impacted by locust infestations in Afar region.
The presence of locusts in the other crop-producing regions of Oromia, Somali and Tigray is expected to severely hamper food security and livestock productivity.
ACAPS expressed concern current swarm control and preventative methods such as aerial sprays were ineffective.
“Despite international and national interventions, the infestation is not under control,” the agency stated.
The crisis comes as millions of Ethiopians need food assistance due to insufficient rains during the March to May rainy season, delayed or failed crop planting, and increasing food market prices.
– CAJ News