At a far-flung village in Oshana region in northern Namibia, Paulus Nuyoma herded his eight cattle to a water pond. “One, two, three…eight cattle are what I was left with after my livestock perished due to a dry spell. Not only is that, but looking on, this is the healthiest the cattle have looked in four years,” he said on Friday.
Banana growers in Rungwe district - in Tanzania’s Mbeya region - have been called upon to report whenever they discover and disease infecting the crop so as to increase production. The advice was issued by a researcher on fruits and vegetables from Tanzania Agricultural research Institute Uyole centre (TARI-Uyole) Daud Mbongo when speaking to farmers in Kisondolea Ward in Rungwe district.
Delays in obtaining pesticides, helicopters, and other vital supplies have set back efforts to combat East Africa’s worst desert locust outbreak in decades. And now a second generation of the pest is forming swarms just as a new crop season gets underway, threatening the livelihoods of millions of people.
Weeks before the coronavirus spread through much of the world, parts of Africa were already threatened by another kind of plague, the biggest locust outbreak some countries had seen in 70 years. Now the second wave of the voracious insects, some 20 times the size of the first, is arriving. Billions of the young desert locusts are winging in from breeding grounds in Somalia in search of fresh vegetation springing up with seasonal rains.
Large portions of North Africa are experiencing hot and dry conditions that are threatening the region’s durum crop. “It’s something to look out for,” said MarketsFarm analyst Bruce Burnett. It has been dry through most of North Africa’s rainy period with below-average precipitation in every month from November through February.
The effects of inadequate rainfall on agricultural production added two countries – Namibia and Tanzania – to FAO’s list of countries in need of external assistance for food, adding to strains triggered by desert locusts even as global cereal production appears strong, according to FAO’s quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, released today.
The United States has released $8 million in support for regional operations to control desert locusts in East Africa, USAID has announced, with the funding expected to help in curbing the crisis. Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia are some of the countries expected to benefit from the support, following the deadly outbreak which could trigger the food crisis in the region.
Below-average rainfall mixed with heat in Ivory Coast’s central cocoa-growing regions last week raised concerns over the mid-crop outlook, though there was sufficient moisture in other regions, farmers said on Monday. Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its dry season from November to March, with most farmers reporting supply tightness from the bush as the main crop tails off.
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