“Locust-19”, a second wave of locusts, is set to ravage crops in east Africa. This comes just two months after swarms devastated the landscape, and as the region also faces the battle with coronavirus.
Many of the swarms in the first wave were grouped in the billions with one the size of Moscow. Speaking on the matter, president of the African Development Bank and former Nigerian agriculture minister, Akinwumi Adesina, said: “It appears that those who escape Covid-19 will soon face Locust-19… The last thing Africa needs now is a hunger pandemic”.
Experts predict the second wave to be 20 times larger than the first, saying the swarms from the first wave in January and February laid eggs. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN is focussing on the threat to food security and livelihoods as a result of the locust upsurge. This has proved difficult so far due to the restrictions on movement and personnel and equipment in place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Locust forecasting expert from the organization, Keith Cressman, said: “The last time Kenya suffered a locust invasion on anything like this scale was 70 years ago when it was still a British colony”. He expects this particular swarm to do more damage, due to the increased numbers and timing, with the swarm expected to ravage the region “at the start of the planting season… farmers would postpone planting or the locusts would eat the seedlings, either of which would be devastating”.
The region already has dangerous levels of poverty and mass hunger, with an estimated 40% of the area’s 160m people undernourished. Despite this, east Africa must also now face two threats: the looming shadow of the coronavirus pandemic and the oncoming swarm of locusts set to ravage the region’s crops, damaging livelihoods and food supply for the coming future.