UN food agency warns of danger to croplands in Mali and Niger from locust swarms

June 6, 2012AFRICA - The United Nations food agency warned today that croplands in Niger and Mali are at imminent risk from Desert Locust swarms that are moving southward from Algeria and Libya. How many locusts there are and how far they move will depend on two major factors. The effectiveness of current control efforts in Algeria and Libya and upcoming rainfall in the Sahel of West Africa, a Senior Locust Forecasting Officer with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said Keith Cressman, said in a news release. Groups of locusts have recently been found in northern Niger, arriving from infestations further north. According to FAO, the Desert Locust swarms can be dense and highly mobile. Varying from less than one square kilometer to several hundred square kilometers, with at least 40 million and sometimes as many as 80 million locust adults in each square kilometer of swarm, and able to travel about five to 130 kilometers or more in a day. A Desert Locust adult can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day, equivalent to about two grams every day. A very small part of an average swarm- or about one ton of locusts eats the same amount of food in one day as about 10 elephants or 25 camels or 2,500 people. FAO says locust-control efforts in the region are being hindered by continued insecurity along both sides of the Algerian-Libyan border. Political insecurity and conflict in Mali could also hamper monitoring and control efforts if the locusts reach that country. Locust infestations were first reported in southwest Libya near Ghat in January 2012 and in south-east Algeria. In late March, FAO warned that swarms could arrive in Niger and Mali by June. Continued rains and the resulting growth of vegetation led to the formation of swarms by mid-May. FAO notes that both Algeria and Libya have been working hard to treat infested areas, covering a total of 40,000 hectares in Algeria and 21,000 hectares in Libya as of the end of May. “In a normal year, Algeria and Libya would have been able to control most of the local swarms and prevent their movement towards the south, but insecurity along both sides of the Algerian-Libyan border is getting in the way of full access by local teams and by FAO experts who need to assess the situation. Mr. Cressman. Libya’s capacity to carry out control efforts has also been affected in the past year. Niger last faced Desert Locust swarms during the 2003-05 plague that affected farmers in two dozen countries. –Spy Ghana
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5 Responses to UN food agency warns of danger to croplands in Mali and Niger from locust swarms

  1. allan says:

    So? Harvest the protein rich locusts as food source, instead of burning then, poisoning them and let it fall to rot. They eat your crops, you eat them! When you don’t eat them, you poison them, then you lose your crops to the locusts and lose the alternative food source the locusts provide in these times. but these geniuses don’t get it.. they rather starve.

    • Artoro says:

      Allen:

      That is an idea, but, it would take some serious hunger (long term) to bring that choice to bear. By then, the locusts would have eaten everything and flown off. If this is not a normal staple of the local diet, (and it’s probably not) I don’t think anyone would give it a second thought. At least no one has in past locusts evasions to my knowledge. Maybe it’s because it usually happens so quickly. The locusts, these guys are hit and run artist. Now really, would you eat them? As I sit here, I could just imagine having to do that when I was a kid growing up, “Ma, what’s for dinner tonight?” “Locusts.” “Not locusts again, we just had locusts last night.”

      • LibertyinChrist says:

        hahaha good response. Locusts are definately not on my menu either. We have enough problems with Monsanto GMO garbage and zombies…

    • RkAngel says:

      Nets may capture a few of the swarm, though a part of the swarm don’t even fly, so crops would still be destroyed. Then once captured, a mass processing would have to commence, rather quickly.
      Locust Watch FAQ Link:
      http://www.fao.org/ag/locusts/en/info/info/faq/
      Locusts have been used as food since humans have existed and its a wonder that they are not farmed like cattle or fish. I have often wondered why our tiny reptilian brain abhores even the thought of eating an insect. I digress.

      I agree that locusts/grasshoppers would have been a great food source, and many ancient and modern texts concur.
      Heres a link to a Popular Science Monthly Vol.23 article from August 1883 entitled:

      Locusts as Food for Man
      http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Popular_Science_Monthly/Volume_23/August_1883/Locusts_as_Food_for_Man

      Peace Out
      RkAngel

  2. Granny Bear says:

    When i saw the old movies (back in the olden days, when I was young) with people trying to beat them with clothing or just shooing them along with a torch, I wondered how a road roller would do? If the crop is lost anyway, roll that packer over everything, then plow them in as fertilizer. Or a bunch of heavy pipes, with a chains running through, and strong people pulling those pipes along, like a roller packer.

    But with so much war, there doesn’t seem to be anything anybody can do, except shoot each other. Probably they can’t even plant much of anything, so the hoppers keep moving.

    When the western parts of the USA were settled there were plagues of hoppers. It is now thought that the farming methods that were in vogue then, destroyed the underground stage of the hopper’s life cycle. They deep plowed, then. It is a method not used now as it dries out too much of the soil, but then they had to get down below the natural wild ground covers to plant the preferred grains.

    War is so bad.

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