The Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, on Tuesday warned that the spread of desert locusts from several countries in East Africa including Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya should be viewed with caution.Swarms of the insects are currently sweeping across eastern Ethiopia, neighbouring areas of Somalia, and pouring into Kenya, destroying crops, pasture, and forest covers throughout the region on an unprecedented scale.
“Farmers should be prepared, visit their farms so that we can partner to combat the pest in case its strikes,” the ministry said.
Latest reports by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) indicate that locusts began crossing into Kenya around December 28, initially destroying pastures in semi-arid counties mainly occupied by herder communities.
In addition, the UN agency said in a January 6 update that while swarms of locusts in Somalia are expected to mature and breed there this month, there is a low risk that those in Kenya would breed.
The insects – capable of travelling 150 kilometres a day – are heading through Kenya and may spread into South Sudan and Uganda.
Even Rwanda in central Africa is beginning to take precautions, reports say.
Ethiopia and Kenya only have four spray planes each, and the insecurity in Somalia means any form of control measures are risky, it said.
According to the National Geographic Society (NGS), a scientific and educational organisation headquartered in the US, locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage and attendant human misery— famine and starvation.
They occur in many parts of the world, but today locusts are most destructive in sustenance farming regions of Africa.