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Locust swarms threaten millions of livestock in Southern Africa

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has given a warning on the impending outbreak of locusts which may endanger the food security and livelihoods of millions of people in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The UN agency said around seven million people in the four affected countries who are still recovering from the impact of the 2019 drought, and grappling with the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, could experience further food and nutrition insecurity.
FAO is working with the Southern African Development Community and the International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa to support the governments of the affected countries to control the locusts.
“Even with the control measures already taken, the locusts are still a threat. Some of the worst-affected areas are very difficult to reach. We need to support the four governments, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and partner organizations like International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA) to control this pest and protect people’s livelihoods,” Patrice Talla, FAO sub-regional coordinator for Southern Africa said.
In Namibia, initial outbreaks began in the Zambezi plains and hopper bands and swarms have now spread to key farming regions. Similarly, in Zambia, the locust has spread rapidly and is affecting both crop and grazing lands, the UN agency said.
In Zimbabwe, swarms and hoppers initially infested two sites in the Chiredzi district and have now moved into Manicaland province.
In Botswana, some smallholder farmers lost their entire crop at the start of the Locust outbreak.
As the next planting season approaches, the pest threatens the country’s breadbasket region of Pandamatenga, where most of the country’s sorghum staple is grown, unless control efforts are urgently stepped up.
Fortunately, FAO has launched the Southern Africa Emergency Locust Response and Preparedness Project which is funded by FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme.
The project will increase the emergency capacity of SADC and IRLCO-CSA to support the four affected member states in their bid to prevent the pest from causing more damage.
The project will focus on emergency response in the locust hotspots and strengthen coordination and information exchange among the affected countries.
It will also enable aerial surveillance and mapping activities in hard-to-reach areas, and provide technical support for national locust surveillance and control units to be established.

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