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East Africa has already been devastated by a series of desert locust infestations in the past few months. Between January and April up to 1.3 million hectares of land and 200,000 hectares of crops were destroyed in Ethiopia.
It is feared the favourable dry season and drought conditions will provide the optimum breeding ground for the insects in time for the next harvest.
After multiplying into their millions, the locusts then emerge during the rainy monsoon season to wreak havoc.
The East Africa regional organisation found up to 350,000 tons of cereals had been destroyed by locusts between January and April.
In February, Somalia declared a “national emergency” after a deadly swarm decimated vital vegetation.
Kenneth Kemucie Mwangi from the climate monitoring programme of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IDAG) said: “Until we get extended figures, I would just say Ethiopia was definitely the most affected in terms of croplands, then Somalia.”
Cyril Ferrand, a Nairobi-based expert from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) highlighted the extent of the problem by insisting hundreds of billions of locusts have already been killed in the region.
He said: “About 400,000 hectares were controlled in the region between January and mid-May.
“We estimate that 400 billion locusts have been exterminated.”
It is feared the next wave could just be around the corner after Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture said on Wednesday the locusts were flying in from Botswana and Zambia.
Authorities attempted to control any potential outbreak by deploying pest control teams to the affected areas.
However videos shared by the ministry showed thick clouds of insects flying low over crop fields and farmland in the central Otjozondjupa region.
The large grasshopper species are easily identifiable by its bright red wings.
The United Nations (UN) estimates a swarm of locusts can contain anything between 40-80 million insects.
A swarm in those numbers is capable of digesting the same amount of food in a day as three million people.
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According to the National Geographic, each individual desert locust can eat its entire body weight in a day – as a result such a swarm would decimate 423 million pounds of crops.
The continent has already been rocked by economic concerns amid the global COVID-19 crisis having a major effect on supply chains.
The World Bank has already attempted to offset the financial down turn and has pumped £405 million ($500 million) into a program to help countries vulnerable to hunger in East Africa.
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