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FAO sounds alarm as swarms of desert locust breed

FAO sounds alarm as swarms of desert locust breed

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned further spread of swarms of desert locust as some continue to mature in Oromia, Somali and Southern regions.

Some hopper bands remain in Eastern Somali region and many have fledged and formed immature swarms that are moving South of the Shebelle River towards Bale and Borena zones and South Omo, according to the Organization. 

“Some of the swarms are maturing and are likely to breed,” FAO said in its latest statement released on December 30, 2020.

The warning comes as the Ministry of Agriculture announced the damage caused by the first round of infestation has reached up to 3.8 million quintals of produce. This accounts for one percent of the total quantity of the 380 quintals of crops produced during the current harvest season.

In the first round of the locust outbreak, there was a severe damage to livestock feed in parts of Amhara, Afar, Oromia, Tigray, Dire Dawa, and Somali regions.

The second round is also ravaging 18 zones along the Somali border and the Southern parts of the country, particularly in Oromia and Somali regions, according to the Ministry. It has covered 195,000 hectares of land, while efforts are being exerted to contain the influx with the support of 13 survey and spraying planes.

“The government has put in place mechanisms to respond promptly to natural disasters, including the ongoing rampant locust infestation, to make sure that the national food self-sufficiency plan is being implemented,” said Umer Hussien, Minister of Agriculture. He went on to remark “Based on the plan, we will stop importing wheat a year later.”

According to Umer, currently, the country is importing mechanized agricultural equipment to support irrigation development and fully substitute the import of wheat. For the coming harvest season, more than 12,000 farmers are engaged in wheat production along with the plan to develop more than 260,000 hectares of land in two rounds. 

According to the Ministry, about 90,000 hectares of land is being cultivated to produce up to 10 million quintals of wheat in the coming harvest season.

Despite being the largest wheat producer in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia has been spending up to USD 500 million to import around 20 miliion quintals of wheat annually.