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March 20, 2020 10:03 am

Plague of Locusts to Hit Africa, Mideast, Says UN Group

avatar by JNS.org

Copulating desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, photographed near Aiterba on the Sudanese Red Sea coast. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Locusts are coming to Africa and the Middle East just in time for Passover, though will likely not affect Israel or the country’s crops, The Times of Israel reported on Monday, citing Locust Watch, part of the Food and Agriculture Organization at the United Nations.

The organization’s most recent forecast reports “extremely alarming” swarms of Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) forming in the Horn of Africa.

The countries hit the hardest are expected to be Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Iran, Pakistan and Sudan, the latter of which will likely be affected later this summer, senior locust forecasting officer Keith Cressman, who works at Locust Watch, told The Times of Israel.

The last time the region was in such danger was during 1987-89.

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The Desert Locust “is the most destructive migratory pest in the world,” according to the Locust Watch website.

Swarms can grow into millions of pests “with the capacity to consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people,” the site informs, with their current widespread breeding in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia representing “an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods at the beginning of the upcoming cropping season.”

Cressman also noted that coronavirus travel restrictions are affecting international experts and gatherings for training to combat the locust threat, which may prevent proper and timely treatment.

The Food and Agriculture Organization prepares monthly bulletins and periodic updates summarizing the locust situation, and forecasting migration and breeding on a country by country basis.

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