As the coronavirus death toll approaches 200,000 and more than 2.5 million confirmed cases, understandably the world is looking away from a global humanitarian catastrophe of Biblical proportion happening elsewhere. A deepening crisis is exploding in many parts of the world as more frequent natural disasters and changing weather patterns along with poverty and conflict. According to a new report from the World Food Programme (WFP) the world is facing a perfect storm. 135 million people are facing crisis levels of hunger or worse, coupled with an additional 130 million on the edge of starvation prompted by Coronavirus.
To make matters worse farms and food production businesses are struggling to stay afloat due to Covid-19. Crops and animals are being destroyed due to virus restrictions. With an extra billion mouths to feed the vision of the rest of 2020 is a very frightening picture, however, the problem did not begin this year, the problem escalated last year.
Back in 2019, a crisis emerged across three continents as extreme weather conditions and disease began to bite the farming industry leaving world banks warning the 2020s would be a decade of dramatic economic and social upheaval as another billion mouths will need to be fed. This statement, of course, was made well before the coronavirus had jumped from animal to human, (or from lab to human.)
In 2019, Europe was losing 1000 small farms a day, due to a crop decline, leading to price rises. Officials were using the word 'disaster' to describe the widespread crop failures happening all over America and in Asia pork prices had doubled after more than a quarter of the entire global pig population had been slaughtered due to an outbreak, (also in China) of African swine fever.
Another big factor, destroying crops in 2019 was the weather. In many parts of Europe, Ireland and the UK it began to rain at the end of September 2019 and didn't stop until the end of January 2020. It was even worse for the U.S., who witnessed “unprecedented” crop failures all across the country. The endless rain and horrific flooding during the early months of 2019 resulted in tremendous delays in getting crops planted in many areas, and then snow and bitterly cold temperatures turned the harvest season into a complete and utter nightmare all over the country, resulting in their worst agricultural year in history.
After unprecedented droughts, record-busting temperatures and mega-size bushfires, 2019/2020 has been a disaster for Australian farmers, tens of thousands of cattle lost and even more farming acres, as their worst summer in history brought a 60% loss in productivity.
On January the 11th, 2019, the holiest site in Islam was swarmed by a plague of locusts, forcing cleaners into action to drive the insects out. The Great Mosque in Mecca, which hosts millions of Muslim pilgrims every year and is the holiest site in Islam was the birthplace of a plague which in just over 12 months would grow into billions, stretching from the western border of China sweeping through Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, through Arabia the Middle East, northern Africa and all the way down to Southern Africa. TBW. The numbers and size of the plagues are unfathomable, we are talking billions of the most ravenous beast known to man, just a small swarm can eat enough food to feed a city of 35,000 people. These swarms are currently invading the poorest and most food-insecure people on the planet and the swarms are expected to increase 5 fold by June.
Desert Locust situation update 21 April 2020
Swarms continue to mature in East Africa Spring breeding will cause a further increase in locust infestations in East Africa, eastern Yemen and southern Iran in the coming months.
EAST AFRICA The current situation in East Africa remains extremely alarming as more swarms form and mature in northern and central Kenya, southern Ethiopia and probably in Somalia. This represents an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods because it coincides with the beginning of the long rains and the planting season. Although ground and aerial control operations are in progress, widespread rains that fell in late March will allow the new swarms to mostly stay in place, mature and lay eggs while a few swarms could move from Kenya to Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia. During May, the eggs will hatch into hopper bands that will form new swarms in late June and July, which coincides with the start of the harvest.
● KENYA. More swarms mature in central and northern areas with egg-laying imminent. Control continues.
● ETHIOPIA. Swarms mature in the south (SNNPR, Oromia) and disperse northwards in Oromia and Somali region; hopper bands in the east near Dire Dawa. Control continues.
● UGANDA. A maturing swarm was reported on 17 April in Katakwi district of the northeast.
ARABIAN PENINSULA Breeding continues in several countries, causing hopper bands to form that could lead to swarms.
● YEMEN. Heavy rains and floods fell in the interior (Marib, Bayhan) this past week, including Aden today; swarm in Wadi Hadhramaut.
● SAUDI ARABIA. Control continues against mid-instar hopper bands near the Persian Gulf and new hopper bands in the interior (Hail and Al-Badie Al-Shamali).
● IRAQ. Limited control in progress against early instar hopper groups in the southern provinces of Al Muthanna, Al Diwaniya, Al Najaf.
● OMAN. Late instar hopper groups, bands and a few small swarms seen laying eggs near UAE. Swarm on the Yemen border today. Control continues.
● UAE. Limited control against hopper bands and adult groups near Al Ayn and Oman.
SOUTHWEST ASIA Breeding continues in the spring breeding areas where the situation is worrisome in Iran.
● IRAN. More hopper bands form along the southwest coast; swarm laying near Jask and adult groups lay in Sistan & Baluchistan. Control continues.
● PAKISTAN. Hopper and adult groups in Baluchistan; hopper groups and bands in the Indus Valley and Punjab; limited breeding near the Indian border. Control continues. FAO
2020 Locust Plague
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