Urgent funding needed to fight locust threat in Africa

With the summer season shaping up as vital in determining whether the locust infestation in West Africa turns into a plague, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is appealing to the global community for additional funds for massive national operations to control the crop-devouring insects. ”Donor support is urgently needed for targeted ground and aerial spraying and for environmental monitoring,” the Rome-based agency said in a warning yesterday, the latest in a series it has issued over the past several months. Despite these calls, there remains a large shortfall in funds for a sustained control campaign.

From United Nations:
UN appeals for urgent funding to fight locust threat to crops in West Africa

Female desert locust in process of laying eggs

With the summer season shaping up as vital in determining whether the locust infestation in West Africa turns into a plague, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is appealing to the global community for additional funds for massive national operations to control the crop-devouring insects.

”Donor support is urgently needed for targeted ground and aerial spraying and for environmental monitoring,” the Rome-based agency said in a warning yesterday, the latest in a series it has issued over the past several months. Despite these calls, there remains a large shortfall in funds for a sustained control campaign.

Many affected countries do not have sufficient resources to control swarms and avoid serious crop losses this summer. Aircraft, pesticides, vehicles, sprayers and technical support are lacking in all affected countries and the summer season will be critical in determining how the locust upsurge develops, FAO said.

While the situation is returning to normal in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, large swarms continue to arrive in West Africa. In the past weeks, swarms from northwest Africa invaded Mauritania, Senegal, Mali and Niger, disrupting the summer planting season. Massive hatching has started in most of these countries and numerous hopper bands are forming, FAO warned.

In the coming weeks, more swarms are likely to appear in West Africa, including Chad, and some may even reach western Sudan. There is also a slight risk that they could reach northern Burkina Faso.

More breeding will occur from August onwards and the first new swarms could start to form by mid-September, seriously threatening crops that will be ready for harvest. Soon after that, swarms are likely to re-invade the north and northwest unless conditions remain unusually favourable in the Sahel region.

The agency said donors such as the European Community, Italy, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Spain, the United States and FAO itself have already provided about $9 million to affected countries and a further $10 million is in the pipeline. But there is still a very large shortfall of funds to continue the campaign until the end of the summer locust breeding season in October.

At a recent ministerial meeting in Algiers involving the nine locust-affected countries in western Africa, two scenarios were drawn up, priced at $58 million and $83 million, depending on the degree to which the situation may deteriorate.


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