ETHIOPIA-KENYA: FAO forecasts locust swarms in January

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Locust swarms are expected in late December and early January in northeast Kenya and southeast Ethiopia in November, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said.

"From mid-December onwards, small swarms are expected to form in [Ethiopia’s] the Ogaden north of the Sheble [river] and gradually move south towards Kenya," the agency said in its latest bulletin, forecasting the locust situation in the region until mid-January 2008.

FAO said breeding in November in eastern Ethiopia resulted in the hatching and formation of numerous bands of insects in the Ogaden and that several swarms laid eggs there, while others moved to southern Somalia and northeastern Kenya.

In Kenya, the FAO said, hatching occurred in the northeast during the second week of December and the small bands formed would give rise to small swarms by mid-January.

"New swarms could appear from the north after mid-December," the agency added. "All efforts should be made to monitor this developing and potentially dangerous situation closely and carefully, and to undertake control as necessary."

On 11 December, FAO said the locust infestation remained serious in the affected areas in Kenya and Ethiopia, following further reports of infestations in the two countries.

Swarms of locusts, originating from Somalia, began to infest Kenya's northeastern district of Mandera and some areas in the Somali region of eastern Ethiopia at the end of November but have since moved to other parts of the two countries.

According to experts, an average swarm consists of 40 million locusts and a single locust can eat two grammes of food a day.

The Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa - a regional pest and vector management organisation – said it has begun a verification assessment in the two countries.

Source: IRIN