The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture has issued a statement saying it needs more additional aircraft to spray the fields in the face of the fast spreading desert locust swarms. Agriculture State Minister Mandefro Negusse stated that the country only has one aircraft sprayer left, whereas it requires at least ten to control the infestation.
Negusse added that locusts have invaded parts of Somali, Oromia, Amhara, and Afar regional states as well as Dire Dawa City Administration: “The locusts are currently entering Ethiopia from Somalia, Djibouti and Yemen. But the invasion will be even more challenging as the swarms will continue to enter the country until the end of December.”
A swarm of locusts can fly 50 to 100 kms per day, and the only way to control them is by using aircraft sprayers, Mandefro stated, adding that the topography of some of the invaded areas is not however suitable to conduct aerial and ground spraying.
“One aircraft recently collided with a mountain in North Gondar, another aircraft became dysfunctional, and the other two are under maintenance in Nairobi and South Africa. We literally have only one airplane sprayer in Kombolcha spraying at the moment,” the state minister pointed out.
According to him, the country needs at least 10 planes and 150 vehicles to control the locusts, on top of community mobilization.