Farmers in the West African countries are sitting on tenterhooks following the latest warning from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that the dreaded desert pets may be migrating from Eastern Africa to Western Africa.
Currently they are causing havoc in parts of Eastern African with countries like Somalia suffering the most.
Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan are all struggling to cope with the invasion of the pest for the last one month.
FAO said these grasshopper swarms can be up to one kilometre wide, contain up to 80 million hungry little pests, and travel up to 130 kilometres per day.
Extent of destruction
The insects have destroyed over 175,000 acres of farmland in Somalia and Ethiopia, threatening food supplies in both countries.
An average swarm of locusts will destroy crops sufficient to feed 2,500 people for a year, according to the United Nations.
The FAO has termed the invasion the “worst situation in 25 years” in the Horn of Africa.
Desert Locust, a transboundary pest with the ability to spread over large areas can cause considerable damage to pasture and crops.
Outbreaks occur periodically but are complex to predict. When not managed at the place of origin or breeding ground, they can lead to losses of up to 100 percent of food and fodder crops.
A typical Desert Locust swarm can contain up to 150 million locusts per square kilometre.
Swarms migrate with the wind and can cover 100-150 km a day. An average swarm will destroy enough crops that could feed 2 500 people for one year.
West Africa on alert
The FAO has now warned that the locust may be heading to the Western part of the continent.
Countries like Ghana fear that the pest will threaten food security by causing extensive damage to farm produce.
Agric directors in Ghana have been tasked to strengthen their surveillance to prevent the locusts from destroying farms.
More than $500 Million was spent to control a locust invasion in 20 countries in Africa in 2003.
The UN has called for international help to fight huge swarms of desert locusts sweeping through east Africa.
A spokesman for the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), called for aid to “avert any threats to food security, livelihoods, malnutrition”.
The agency fears locust numbers could grow 500 times by June.