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Locust swarms
Farmers try to scare away a swarm of locusts from a field on the outskirts of Sukkur in southern Sindh province on July 1, 2020. - Farmers are struggling as the worst locust plague in 25 years wipes out entire harvests, leaving people scrambling for income. (Photo by SHAHID ALI/AFP via Getty Images)

Locusts outbreak threaten food security in Southern Africa

1 Mins read

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that outbreak of African Migratory Locust (AML) is threatening food security and livelihoods of millions of people in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

A news release from FAO says the organization is working with SADC and the International Red Locust Control Organisation for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA) to support governments of the affected countries.

“In Botswana, some smallholder farmers lost their entire crop at the start of the African Migratory Locust outbreak. As the next planting season approaches, the pest threatens the country’s breadbasket region of Pandamatenga, where most of the country’s sorghum staple is grown unless control efforts are urgently stepped up,”

states the release.

Swarms of the voracious insects “can eat enough food for 2,500 people in a day,” according to a separate Food and Agriculture Organization document on the southern Africa outbreaks. A single swarm can contain millions of locusts.

While all four countries have launched pesticide spraying efforts that have been called the only effective locust control, the work has been limited, the FAO said.

“The situation is aggravated by the inaccessibility and ecological sensitivity of some of the affected areas,” the agency said. A new emergency response initiative seeks environmental friendly pesticides along with other support.

One locust breeding area has been Botswana’s well-known and wildlife-rich Okavango delta.

The Botswana outbreak began in May, and the countries and the U.N. decided by late June that the outbreaks were a regional emergency.

“Some of the worst-affected areas are very difficult to reach,” FAO southern Africa coordinator Patrice Talla said.

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