Graphic shows areas affected by locust swarms.
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AGRICULTURE

Harvests threatened by locust swarms

By Jordi Bou

February 4, 2020 - Swarms of voracious locusts are rampaging through large parts of East Africa, the Middle East and southwestern Asia, devastating cropland and threatening the livelihoods of millions of people.

As locusts by the billions descend on parts of Kenya in the worst outbreak in 70 years, small planes are flying low over affected areas to spray pesticides in what experts call the only effective control.

Somalia’s agriculture ministry on Sunday called the outbreak a national emergency and major threat to the country’s fragile food security, saying the “uncommonly large” locust swarms are consuming huge amounts of crops.

In swarms the size of major cities, the locusts also have affected parts of Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea, whose agriculture ministry says both the military and general public have been deployed to combat them.

The locusts also are heading toward the breadbasket of Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country, in that nation’s worst outbreak in 25 years. On Thursday, startled residents of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, started reported sightings of the insects.

The insects have also invaded India and Pakistan, where the government declared a national emergency.

Favorable weather conditions and a delayed government response have helped the locusts breed and attack crop areas.

Their potential for large-scale destruction is raising fears of food insecurity.

PUBLISHED: 04/02/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Associated Press
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