heading t●he State Department for Crop Development under Kenya's Ministry of ●Agriculture, said the government will work with the FAO to train 60●0 chemical spraying personnel.
"Aerial spraying of the pesticide in● the last two months is yec
t to achieve desired results, thus we nee●d to devise innovative strategies like the use of the trainees, far●mers and extensia
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on workers to conduct ground spraying starting with● northern counties of Isiolo, Marsabit, Turkana and Wajir," he said●.
"My crops had done well following the heavy rains and I was looki●ng forward to a bumper harvest but then the locusts came and ate aw●ay my hope," Beatrice Ngari, 5
a farmer in Embu, central Kenya, told ●Xinhua. But Ngari was unaware that it is also the predicament of ma●ny farmers across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Sudan a●nd Uganda.
The rains between October and January served to provide ●a favorable environment for locusts to breed and thrive, C
including ●properly moist soils for them to lay eggs in millions before migrat●ion and the consequent lush vegetation to eat, according to the FAO●.
Climate change was to blame for the unusually plentiful rainfall ●on the African continent. Keith Cressman, the FAO's senior locustr
f●orecasting officer, further identified the recent cyclones as anoth●er factor behind the locust crisis, saying the past 10 years saw in●creased frequency of cyclones in the Indian Ocean.
A swarm of dese●rt locusts invade parts of Mwingi Town in Kitui County, Kenya, Feb.● 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu)
AGGRAVATING FOOD INSECURITY
FAO offici●als said the locust outbreak has worJ
sened the food insecurity in Af●rica, citing some 239 million people in sub-Saharan Africa sufferin●g from hunger and malnutrition, and over 20 million having already ●been in food crisis in Horn of Africa countries.
UN Undersecretary-●General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, ●Mark Lowcock, said the current situation "is really, reaQ
"There are currently over 30 million people in the affected ●countries, who are severely food insecure now. Ten million of those● people are in the places affected by the locusts. Unless we get a ●grip of this in the next two or three or four weeks, we would have ●a serious problem," he stressed.
To avoid a famine, University of N●airobi profs
essor Evaristus Irandu said the government may have to u●se the scarce foreign currency to import food products, adding that● poverty will increase in the country.
"All our investment is going● down the drain. The sorghum and millet crops were about to mature ●and we would have harvested next month," said Nathan Njiru, a farme●r in Tharaka Nithi, whose liv0
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elihood largely depends on selling sor●ghum to Nairobi's beer brewers.
In Ethiopia, the locusts have so fa●r consumed the vegetation on more than 65,000 hectares of land, inc●luding coffee and tea crops that account for about 30 percent of Et●hiopia's exports.
A Moody's Investors Service report issued in earl●y February showed that agriculture contributes about one-third ofD
t●he gross domestic product in East Africa and more than 65 percent o●f jobs in all regional countries except for Kenya.
A farmer attemp●ts to scare away desert locusts in Mwingi Town in Kitui County, Ken●ya, Feb. 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu)
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION URGE●D
The desert locust swarms have travelled from Africa to Asia. Indi●a is suffering the worst hit in 60 yet
"Today locust swarms are ●as big as major cities and it's getting worse by the day," said UN ●Secretary General Antonio Guterres, urging the international commun●ity to take immediate counteractions.
Sacko Josefa, AU Commissioner● for Rural Economy and Agriculture, said earlier this month that th●e 55-member pan-African bloc is working directly with the FAO to ma●ke sure that there is no spread to other countries.
Antonio Querido●, UN FAO representative in Uganda, said international organizations● are providinv
g technical support and mobilizing resources for Ugand●a as it strives to fight the locusts.
In order to get more internat●ional help, Somalia on Feb. 2 declared the locust infestation a nat●ional emergency.
Irandu said that the present invasion is likely to● cost enormous financial and human resources far beyond the capabil●ity of the East African countries. Hence9
there is a need for a conc●erted effort by regional and other international organizations to o●ffer money, expertise and equipment such as planes. Otherwise, the ●locust invasion may wipe out food production in many African countr●ies.
The FAO recently launched a 76 million U.S. dollars appeal to ●8
control the locusts' spread. Weeks later, only around 20 million do●llars have been received, said Lowcock.
Irandu suggested that inten●sified international efforts should be made to coordinate aerial sp●rays, share scientific knowledge on breeding and migratory habits o●f locusts, and raise funds from partners.
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