New locust outbreak adds to southern Africa’s woes

Another locust outbreak is threatening southern Africa, this time with the potential to affect some 7 million people in four more countries.

Botswana has seen smallholder farmers lose entire crops, with the growing region of Pandamatenga and its key sorghum crops at risk as the country seeks to step up its control efforts. Namibia’s initial outbreak in the Zambezi plain has spread to key farming regions, while locusts in Zambia are spreading rapidly and affecting both crop and grazing lands.

“In Zimbabwe, swarms and hoppers initially infested two sites in the Chiredzi District and have now moved into Manicaland Province,” the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said. “Locust damage to crops will compound existing food insecurity in communities already affected by floods, drought and the impacts of COVID-19.”

FAO said it is working with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA) to work to control the locusts.

“Even with the control measures already taken, the locusts are still a threat. Some of the worst-affected areas are very difficult to reach. We need to support the four governments,” said Patrice Talla, a regional FAO officer. The FAO is spending US$500,000 on aerial surveillance, mapping and other locust suppression strategies.

Meanwhile, the devastating locust outbreak in East Africa continues, with another generation of locusts breeding in Ethiopia and parts of Kenya. These may spread across borders, with Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan likely to see infestations increase in September.

Image: FAO file


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