News / Africa

FAO Warns of Locust Threat in Mali and Niger

Desert locust (FAO / Diana Giampeiro)Desert locust (FAO / Diana Giampeiro)
x
Desert locust (FAO / Diana Giampeiro)
Desert locust (FAO / Diana Giampeiro)
Joe DeCapua
Heavy rains have fallen over the past three weeks in northern Mali and Niger and that’s resulted in growing swarms of Desert locusts. Efforts are underway to contain the insects in a region that’s already food insecure.

They may be called Desert locusts, but they like rain. Keith Cressman is a Senior Locust Forecasting Officer for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.



“Locusts exist normally at most times of the year in desert areas anywhere between West Africa and western India. Now they require rainfall in order to reproduce and increase in numbers. So the rains provide the sandy soil with moisture for their eggs, and those eggs hatch after about two weeks. And then after about another six weeks, the wingless nymphs -- juvenile locusts -- get wings and become adults,” he said.

And when the rain is heavy – as it has been in northern Mali and Niger – the stage is set for swarms.

“They have the ability to take advantage of unusually good conditions. And when they do that it’s at this point that they can increase in large numbers very rapidly. And then they can threaten agricultural production zones in that country,” said Cressman.

The locusts arrived in Mali and Niger last month from Algeria and Libya, where infestations were first reported in January. The FAO says insecurity in Algeria and Libya hampered control operations, allowing the locusts to migrate across the Sahara.

Cressman said that the heavy rains not only provide good conditions for breeding, but may result in a second generation of locusts in another month or two. Those swarms could pose new threats to Algeria and Libya and threaten harvests in West Africa’s Sahel region.

“If you can imagine that a locust swarm – a cloud of locusts – has billions of insects, this means that a small part of a single swarm can eat the same amount of food in one day as about 2,500 people. So imagine if we have a number of swarms around in a particular country, it can have a very significant impact on not only the agricultural production in that country, but on that country’s food security,” he said.

While ground control operations have been underway in Niger since early June, political conflict has prevented similar efforts in northern Mali. More than 30 pickup trucks and other locust control equipment were looted.

The FAO is asking for $10 million to expand control operations. This is in addition to country-level spending. Cressman said if the $10 million dollars is spent before a plague develops, it can save up to half a billion dollars a year or two later in trying to control and contain it.

The FAO is also closely monitoring locusts that have been seen in eastern Chad and Sudan’s Darfur region.

You May Like

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs