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East Africa’s Locust Plague is Covid-19’s Deadly Twin

While tackling the Coronavirus pandemic has grabbed global attention, a new crisis that could claim a lot more lives is brewing in Africa: massive locust invasions. Billions of desert locusts are ravaging countries all across East Africa, including Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, and Djibouti. It has been reported that their numbers are likely to increase by up to 400 times by June 2020, reaching crisis levels. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has estimated that unless quickly controlled, 5 million additional people in East Africa will be hungry by June. The African Development Bank has identified several lifesaving recommendations that can be enacted on now. These include one, the creation of a “green channel” for the free flow of food and agricultural inputs and pesticides to control pest attacks. Two, putting in place measures to prevent food price hikes by releasing food from government grain reserves and implementing anti-hoarding policies. Three, rapidly scaling up food production technologies, including high-yielding, early-maturing, drought-tolerant, disease- and pest-resistant staple crops, and programs such as the African Development Bank’s flagship program, the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation initiative.

SOURCE: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE