Locust outbreak ‘wreaking havoc in Ethiopia’

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An outbreak of locusts in Ethiopia is worsening and could spread to neighboring Kenya, Eritrea, and Sudan, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned.

Crop fields in the regions of Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and Somali regional states have been destroyed by desert locusts. Some farms in Amhara have registered a nearly complete loss of teff, a staple crop in Ethiopia.

The FAO says the locusts have so far covered an area more than 351 sq km (132 sq miles) and are consuming at least 1.7m metric tonnes of vegetation per day.

Efforts to control the swarms have been affected by insecurity in the eastern region, particularly in Dire Dawa city.

“We need to act fast and mobilize the required resources urgently to scale up control and preventive measures,” Fatouma Seid, the FAO representative in Ethiopia, said in a statement.

The locusts have so far been controlled in only 21,000 hectares, out of 48 000 hectares surveyed between August and October.

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