New Locust Swarms in Africa, Yemen Prompt UN Appeal for Funds

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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is seeking $40 million to help fight desert locusts, with new swarms seen in the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

The funds will support surveillance and control operations in the most-affected countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, the FAO said in a statement Wednesday.

More than 1,500 people have been trained in surveillance and control of the pests. The operation currently has about 20 aircraft and 110 ground-vehicle sprayers.

The arrival of the new swarms means the biggest plague of the insects in seven decades will continue into the new year, threatening the food security of millions of people in parts of Africa and the Middle East. The World Bank in May approved $500 million to help combat the pests. A single swarm contains as many as 80 million locusts that can destroy crops sufficient to feed 2,500 people for a year.

“Locust swarms are already forming and threatening to re-invade northern Kenya,” the FAO said in the statement. “Breeding is also underway on both sides of the Red Sea, posing a new threat to Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan and Yemen.”

The FAO is leading efforts to fight the locust invasion and has, together with its partners, helped clear more than 1.3 million hectares of the pests in 10 countries this year. That helped prevent the loss of an estimated 2.7 million tons of cereal worth nearly $800 million, according the agency.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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