The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said Monday it has enhanced its cooperation with Somalia to curb the spread of desert locust in the country.
FAO said its collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation will help up local capacities, surveillance, and control operations to combat the desert locust upsurge even as the attention has been shifted to COVID-19.
“Despite the current circumstances dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that we keep reinforcing our collaboration and continue the hard work to contain the desert locust upsurge, and to protect lives and livelihoods. Otherwise, we could end up in a serious food crisis by the end of the year,” Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia said in a statement.
The UN food agency said it’s directly supporting desert locust control unit stations to undertake vital survey and control operations.
Peterschmitt said the current situation is critical, with the second generation of mature adults laying eggs and a new generation of immature adults forming swarms in Ethiopia and Kenya.
These, the UN official warned, could reach Somalia during the main Gu season, ravaging young crops and pasture.
Said Hussein Iid, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation said FAO’s technical expertise and capacity to mobilize resources is key for Somalia to confront this crisis.
“Even in times of coronavirus, we must not forget the massive threat that desert locusts pose to Somalia’s food security and livelihoods,” said Iid.
Thanks to concerted efforts by the government and FAO, 31,026 ha of land have been controlled out of the 360,000 ha estimated to be affected across the country.
FAO said ground control has been strengthened with the purchase of 18 vehicles for spraying, in addition to another 15 vehicles currently on hire for survey and control in northern and central Somalia.
“Nature-based biopesticides are a reliable, less harmful alternative for controlling locust outbreaks in fragile environments like Somalia,” said Iid.