Ranger Gabriel Lesoipa is surrounded by desert locusts as he and a ground team relay the coordinates of the swarm to a plane spraying pesticides, in Nasuulu Conservancy, northern Kenya, Feb. 1, 2020.
Ranger Gabriel Lesoipa is surrounded by desert locusts as he and a ground team relay the coordinates of the swarm to a plane spraying pesticides, in Nasuulu Conservancy, northern Kenya, Feb. 1, 2020.

JUBA , SOUTH SUDAN - After devastating crops in Uganda and Kenya, desert locusts have invaded South Sudan. The government says it’s trying to raise more than $19 million to battle the infestation.

South Sudan Food and Agriculture Minister Onyoti Adigo said a mature swarm of locusts entered South Sudan on Monday.“

Yesterday we received a report that the desert locust had entered South Sudan from Magwi County and we thought it was a normal grasshopper as it was reported early.  But our team and those of FAO (U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization) sent people there and they confirmed the presence of locusts in Magwi County’s Lobonok, Owinykibul and Panyikwar,”  Adigo told reporters in Juba Tuesday.

The locusts crossed into the southeast area of Magwi County from northern Uganda’s Lamwo district.

Young desert locusts that have not yet grown wings jump in the air as they are approached, as a visiting delegation from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) observes them, in the desert near Garowe, in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia, Feb. 5, 2020.
Huge Locust Outbreak in East Africa Reaches South Sudan
Officials say the worst locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years has reached South Sudan

The locust infestation spreading across a swath of Eastern Africa is considered the worst in decades, and the pests have caused huge crop losses in several countries, heightening worries about food insecurity for millions of people.

Meshack Malo, the country representative for the FAO, said his agency is working with South Sudan’s agriculture ministry to prevent the locusts from spreading nationwide.“

The population of about 2,000 that has arrived are mature," and the sandy nature of the land in Magwi County is "a good environment for them to lay eggs," Malo told VOA's South Sudan in Focus.  He said the FAO and agriculture ministry are discussing the best counter-measures.   One option is to freeze the locusts where they lay eggs.

In this photo taken Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, young desert locusts that have not yet grown wings jump in the air as they are…
'Where it Begins': Young Hungry Locusts Bulk up in Somalia
With more rains expected in the region in the coming weeks, the number of locusts if unchecked could grow by up to 500 times by June, when drier weather is expected

James Janka, South Sudan’s minister for livestock and fisheries, said the locusts will adversely affect many South Sudanese communities, especially in terms of crop production.“

We are also afraid [for] the livestock," he said, because the locusts could consume grass and deprive cattle of grazing areas.

Janka said desert locusts are not a nationwide issue at the moment but a regional one, which requires collective action to prevent the swarms from spreading any further.