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Locusts threaten Niger and Mali

Heavy rains have allowed the maturation of the Desert Locust adults (© FAO/Yasuyoshi Chiba)
Heavy rains have allowed the maturation of the Desert Locust adults
© FAO/Yasuyoshi Chiba

Heavy rain has caused the Desert Locust to multiply in Niger and Mali, threatening pastures and croplands, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned. The locusts arrived from Algeria and Libya, where infestations were first reported in January 2012. Survey and control operations were hampered, FAO says, by insecurity along the borders. In Niger, ground teams have treated 1,200 hectares against the pest, but in northern Mali political conflict has prevented control operations.

Heavy rains have allowed the maturation of the Desert Locust adults, which are now laying eggs, causing locust numbers to increase further. "Rains have already fallen in northern Niger and Mali. This will provide good breeding conditions and the possibility for a second generation in which large numbers of locusts could arise at the end of the summer," says Keith Cressman, FAO Senior Locust Forecasting Officer. "At that time, swarms could move to Mauritania, Algeria, Libya and even southern Morocco, as well as threaten crops during the harvest period in the Sahel of West Africa."

"If you can imagine that a locust swarm has billions of insects, this means that a small part of a single swarm can eat the same amount of food in one day as about 2,500 people," Cressman adds. "So imagine if we have a number of swarms around in a particular country, it can have a very significant impact on not only the agricultural production in that country, but on that country's food security." FAO has appealed for US$10 million to maintain and expand operations.

Date published: August 2012

 

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