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UN Agriculture Agency:

Locust swarms might hit India and Pakistan next month

According to a top official of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, the desert locust invasion, which poses a significant threat to the livelihoods and food security, is expected to move from East Africa to India and Pakistan next month and could be accompanied by other swarms. The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world.

FAO Senior Locust Forecasting Officer Keith Cressman said: “Everybody knows we're facing one of the worst desert locust situations that we've probably had in a number of decades. It's obviously being focused at the moment on East Africa, where it's extremely vulnerable in terms of livelihoods and food security but now in the next month or so it will expand to other areas.”

FAO Desert Locust Appeal
And it will move across the Indian Ocean to India and Pakistan, Cressman said during a virtual briefing on Thursday on the FAO Desert Locust Appeal amid the new threat to Southwest Asia and Africa's Sahel region. Currently, the locust invasion is most serious in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, southern Iran and in parts of Pakistan and starting in June, it will move from Kenya to throughout Ethiopia, as well as to Sudan and perhaps West Africa. The infestations in southern Iran, and in southwest Pakistan, will move to India and Pakistan on the border areas. And those infestations could be supplemented by other swarms coming from East Africa, Northern Somalia, he said.

On what the UN is doing to help these countries as they face the locust invasion, Cressman said the FAO is working with the nations to upscale and intensify their monitoring and control operations.

He told that the agency has fielded expertise and logisticians that the countries may not have themselves and brought in aircraft to help with the aerial control operations required to bring the locust numbers down. The FAO has also made an appeal to the international community for about $153 million to fund these increased operations. We have been focusing on Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia since the beginning of the year, but it will be extended to Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, and if need be to West Africa, the official said.

The FAO's Desert Locust appeal, launched in January, now covers 10 countries - Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Yemen.

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