Friday, August 13, 2004

West/North Africa: locusts

The invasion ...

Swarms invaded Mauritania in early July ... and reached its capital, Nouakchott, about 10 days ago ...

By mid-July, the swarms were spotted in Mali ...

Around the same time, the swarms were found in Senegal, along its border with Mauritania ...
"It is the first time we have seen locusts at this time of year," said Ousseynou Diop, head of the Agriculture Ministry's department of farm warnings and crop defence.

"In the past they used to arrive after the harvest, towards the month of November," but this year "their arrival coincides with the sowing season. We are afraid they will gobble up everything that sprouts. This year will be a disaster if we get no help."
By early August, Gambia, tucked in the middle of Senegal, had declared a state of emergency.

And a couple of days ago, there were reports that the swarms had reached Chad ... and it seems only a matter of time before they reach Sudan, and the beleaguered province of Darfur.

Now today, we hear that swarms have invaded two provinces in Burkina Faso, near that country's border with Mali.

The locusts are moving exactly as the FAO said they would ... and it's worth noting that the organization began issuing warnings back in February. Despite the considerable amount of damage already done by these insects, the threat is far from over ...
More breeding will occur from August onwards and the first new swarms could start to form by mid-September, seriously threatening crops that will be ready for harvest. Soon after this, the swarms are likely to re-invade the north and northwest unless conditions remain unusually favourable in the Sahel to allow another generation of breeding.

Swarms are not expected to move further south in West Africa until about October. (source)

Worth checking out ... this story in the Economist.


Previous posts ...
  • North Africa: more on locusts
  • locusts threaten N. Africa