Nelly Bassily | December 3, 2007
Swarms of Desert Locusts are destroying crops in northeastern Kenya and threatening farm lands in northern Sudan. It’s a potentially dangerous situation requiring close monitoring and rapid response, the United Nations’ food agency has warned.
Desert Locusts can destroy crops quickly because they eat so much. An adult consumes roughly its own weight in food every day, while even a small section of an average swarm can eat as much food as 2,500 people every day.
In Kenya, Desert Locust swarms are ravaging food crops and pasture lands in the Mandera district, near the Ethiopian border. According to a local organization, more than 200 farming families are already in need of assistance after losing their vegetable and cereal crops. Herdsmen also fear for their livestock as the locusts are attacking their pastures.
Officials in the Mandera district say they are confident that the locust swarms in their area will be contained. However, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization says it is likely that new swarms, formed by locusts recently hatched in Ethiopia, will enter Kenya in January.
In northern Sudan, unusually favourable breeding conditions have resulted in the formation of small swarms of adult locusts and small bands of so-called “hoppers” – which are immature, wingless locusts that will become adults in a matter of weeks.
The infestation is worst in the Tokar Delta region, which is also the most important agricultural region on Sudan’s Red Sea coast.
The Sudanese government and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization are working to combat this outbreak. They have already treated with pesticide more than 11,000 hectares of land threatened by the Desert Locusts.
Experts anticipate that more swarms of locusts will form in the interior of Sudan and move to the Red Sea coast this month. And still more locust eggs are scheduled to hatch in the Tokar Delta region.