From the 480 square kilometres of farmland in the 56 districts that were hit by the desert locust invasion, the authorities were able to control the infestation on only 220 square kilometres between August and October, according to data from the UN's Food & Agriculture Organization.


June is the month that ushers in the rainy season in Ethiopia. This year, rain is not the only thing it brought. The feared desert locust invasion followed the rainy season and has been devastating farmers in a large area of the country. The first swarm entered Ethiopia in June 2019 after crossing from Yemen and Somalia. It has been reported in 56 districts across Ethiopia, including in the Oromia, Amhara, Somali, Afar and Tigray regional states and the federal city of Dire Dawa. The desert locusts have covered more than 351 square kilometres and are consuming at least 1.7 billion kilograms of green vegetation a day, according to the November report by the Ministry of Agriculture.


Desert locust infestation is not new to Ethiopia.


From the 480 square kilometres of farmland in the 56 districts that were hit by the desert locust invasion, the authorities were able to control the infestation on only 220 square kilometres between August and October, according to data from the UN's Food & Agriculture Organization.


The first swarm entered Ethiopia in June 2019 after crossing from Yemen and Somalia.




Desert locust infestation is not new to Ethiopia. On average they invade once every three years. This has been a significant drawback to the agriculture sector, which contributes around 34pc to gross domestic product (GDP) and employs two-thirds of the adult population. Efforts to bring the problem under control, traditional as well as modern methods, have had only limited impact. The regional states and the local agriculture bureaus are using three airplanes to spray chemicals that kill the pests. They are clearly outmatched, and with the swarm expected to continue until next June, the outlook is gloomy.


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PUBLISHED ON Nov 16,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1020]



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