Fri, 02 Jun 2023

NAIROBI, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Eastern Africa is safe from desert locust infestation and will remain so in the next six months or year, an official of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has said.

David Phiri, the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, told Xinhua on Tuesday that with drought ravaging most countries in the region, the insects cannot attack due to the unfavorable conditions.

"There is no risk of desert locust infestation during this drought time in eastern Africa. Indeed, desert locusts would not find favorable conditions to thrive. The desert locust situation in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia will, therefore, be calm," he said.

According to Phiri, there is no green biomass and soil moisture that the insects normally need to lay eggs. The current soils are too hard.

However, he noted that scattered hoppers and adults with a few adult groups were present in the southern Western Sahara of Morocco in January.

"On the Red Sea coast, hoppers and adults were present in Sudan, and low numbers of adults were present on the coast of Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, and northwest Somalia," said Phiri.

Eastern Africa battled the worst infestation of desert locusts in 70 years between 2019 and 2021 when large swarms of the insects endangered food production.

On March 14, FAO handed to the Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa (DLCO-EA) a spray aircraft to strengthen response capacity in combating migratory pests in the region.

"Given the fragility of the food security situation in the region, it is critical to building DLCO's capabilities to respond effectively to future infestations of desert locusts and other migratory pests. The air tractor handed over to DLCO-EA is a step towards enabling it to respond to such food security threats that can further worsen our already fragile food systems," Phiri said.

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