Sunday 17 January 2021

Desert Locust situation update: Locust swarms destroyed an estimated 200,000ha of cropland in Ethiopia in 2020, marking the worst invasion the country had seen in 25 years: Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Eritrea and Yemen have swarms arriving

Credit FAO

The Somali Regional State has announced that locust invasions are causing widespread destruction to crops and grazing lands in all but one of the region's administrative zones. The infestation, which has affected 10 zones in the region, is spreading quickly to border areas, according to Abdullahi Yusuf Adem, deputy head of the bureau. The swarms have formed as a result of favourable environmental conditions brought on at the end of November 2020 by cyclone Gati in the Indian Ocean, the strongest tropical cyclone to have ever made landfall in Somalia.

The heavy rainfall provided ideal breeding grounds for the desert pest both in Somalia and in Somali Regional State. Immature swarms are concentrating along the eastern side of the highlands in Harar, Oromia Regional State, according to reports by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The Organisation, which warns of swarms moving into the country's southern regions, has also observed infestations in the vicinity of Jijiga. Preventive activities to control the infestation are currently underway in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture. Locust swarms destroyed an estimated 200,000ha of cropland in Ethiopia in 2020, marking the worst invasion the country had seen in 25 years.

Desert Locust situation update 17 January 2021

Swarms continue to invade Kenya

In the Horn of Africa, immature swarms continue to migrate southwards from breeding areas in eastern Ethiopia and central Somalia to southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. There were reports that a few immature swarms reached Mwanga district in northeast Tanzania on 8 January 2021.

In Ethiopia, immature swarms are concentrating along the eastern side of the Harar Highlands in Oromia region as they move to southern areas of the country, including southern parts of the Rift Valley in SNNP region. There are also cross-border movements near Jijiga and northwest Somalia and along the southern border with Kenya

In Kenya, immature swarms continue to arrive and spread throughout the north. So far, swarms are present in four counties (Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit and, most recently, Isiolo). Breeding continues, and hopper bands are present in the southeast near Taita Taveta and along the coast.

In Somalia, mature swarms are present in the northwest and breeding is in progress on the coast where hopper bands have formed. Breeding also continues in the northeast where numerous hopper bands are concentrated between Iskushuban and Bosaso. Breeding may also be underway in other areas on the northern plateau that received heavy rains from cyclone Gati. Immature swarms continue to move southwards in central and southern regions towards Kenya

Control operations continue in all affected countries.

As conditions are dry in some areas where the swarms are arriving, they are expected to disperse throughout southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. There is a moderate risk that a few swarms could reach central Kenya and perhaps the southwest as well as northeast Tanzania, eastern Uganda, and southeast South Sudan during January. Once swarms arrive in favourable areas, they will mature and lay eggs that will hatch and cause hopper bands to form during February and March. 

Elsewhere, breeding is underway along both sides of the Red Sea coast. Hopper groups and bands are present along both sides of the Sudan/Eritrea border. Scattered solitarious adults prevail along the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden coastal plains in Yemen, and one mature swarm appeared in the northern highlands from the coast.

All countries should maintain maximum efforts in conducting the necessary survey and control operations to reduce migration and breeding. FAO

2021 Locust Plague

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