Locust Outbreak in Eastern Africa

Intoduction

The desert locust (Schistocerca gregarial) is one of most problematic pests in the agricultural sector, with a vast number of crop damage that has been recorded recently. The pest presents an important threat to farmers’ income, food security and livelihoods as it continues to spread across countries. Showler (2008) mentioned that they can eat approximately an equivalent of their body mass mostly on green vegetation per day. The pest consumes a variety of crops including millet, rice, maize, sorghum, sugarcane, barley, cotton, date palm, vegetables, bananas and pines (Showler, 2008). FAO has started with preventative and control programmes for the control of the current outbreak of desert locust in The Horn of Africa and parts of the Persian Gulf. This pest has caused a devastating plague to humanity, especially in Africa in the past. The first organized outbreak control started as a campaign in the second half of 19th century across Algeria (Buj Buj, 1995). However, there are still limited pesticides registered to combat this pest. The following countries in Africa and the Middle East (Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Persian Gulf, Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen) are still battling to control the pest as conditions are more favorable for their breeding due to climate change (FAO, 2020).

In addition, a different species of locusts called the brown locust (Locustana pardalina) has recently been reported in Namibia, Botswana and De Aar area, part of Karoo region (Roger, 2020). This species, as any other locust species fly distances with the wind and is reportedly originates from DRC

Control options

Monitoring and scouting of crops regularly is critical for early detection of the devastating pests. Earlier detection and application of appropriate pesticide can assist in minimizing crop losses. Farmers are encouraged to be vigilant and report any outbreaks to local agricultural agencies or Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) within the FAO. The most effective control is having a correct integrated pest program (IPM) which combines manual control, use of biopesticides, and chemical pesticides as appropriate. Locust outbreaks are sporadic in nature, can breed fast, and multiply up to 20-fold from one generation to the next (Allsopp et al., 1990) in favourable conditions and thus make it difficult to conduct local bio-efficacy studies.

Source :

  • https://croplifeafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Newsletter_February_2020.pdf

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