The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced the latest invasion of desert locust in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an outbreak that was last experienced over 75 years ago in the country. According to a statement by FAO, “a small group of mature desert locusts arrived on the western shore of Lake Albert near Bunia on 21 February after crossing northern Uganda on strong northeasterly winds.” This may become a devastating blow on the country’s economy.
Agriculture accounts for 42.5 percent of the DRC’s gross domestic product and employs about 70 percent of its population. Although the country’s agriculture is not drought-prone, it is a key driver of the economy. Recent battles with the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus which has caused a strain in its economy has also made the World Health Organisation seek more financial aid for the country.
If the DRC does not immediately employ measures to tackle this desert locust outbreak, that has been wreaking havoc in other African regions of Kenya, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan, the country economy would be further plunged into deeper economic distress.
Again, in the Southern African region, South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has confirmed the outbreak of “Brown Locusts” in a newsletter Monday the 24th of February on its website. It, however, stated that this locust outbreak is not in any way connected to the desert locust ravaging the East African Region. For now, Namibia and South Africa’s northwestern Karoo region are the only affected region which is a major threat to food security and the pasture life of the water-scarce regions.
According to the body, measures are being put in place to prevent the development of flying swarms and to intervene soon after the insects have hatched or while they’re in the so-called hopper stage. They also reiterated their readiness to combat the situation as 6 pesticides which have been registered for locust control are available in emergency volumes in the Southern African regions. Nevertheless, policymakers in the African regions need to do more to improve emergency responses to outbreaks in the region to prevent further economic problems.