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Ethiopia scaling up locust control operation as planting season starts

As the February-May Belg season starts, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture is scaling up aerial and ground operations in Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions – Belg crop-producing areas to control desert locusts

The Ministry is implementing this with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“We are at a critical stage at which we need to save the next and subsequent harvests and safeguard the livelihood of the population,” said Fatouma Seid, FAO representative in Ethiopia.

FAO appeals to partners to close the funding gap

“If we don't act swiftly, the resource needs will continue to grow, and it will be more complicated and expensive to contain the situation,” Seid stated.

So far, FAO Ethiopia has received US$6.5mn for control operations from United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund; the Office of United States Foreign Disaster Assistance; the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region and the government of Belgium.

Negotiations are ongoing with the United States Agency for International Development; European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations; Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency; and the government of Germany for an additional US$10mn for control operations and livelihoods support.

FAO has made an appeal for US$138mn, from the initial US$76mn a month ago, to assist eight eastern African countries, of which US$50.5mn is for Ethiopia.

Swarms heavily destroying green vegetation

Awuno Menka, a farmer in Dereba village in South Omo, Gamugofa Zone in the SNNP region, has experienced first-hand the disastrous effects of the locusts and is worried about the continued invasion.

“Two massive swarms landed in our area and destroyed my entire maize crop. Although they were later controlled, more swarms are coming from Kenya. I fear for the next cropping season,” he said.

Another farmer Argueta Belachew, said, “In the last three days alone, numerous hoppers have been hatched and are consuming green vegetation. We appeal for help in controlling them.”